AS THE Prime Minister’s Apprenticeships Adviser, I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the BAME Apprenticeship Forum with The Voice.
The further education sector in England has always been vibrant and varied - providing a broad array of skills training through a number of programmes for millions of people with a multitude of backgrounds, ages and skills levels.
Apprenticeships play a huge part in offering unlimited opportunities for all. My message to everyone I meet is: no matter who you are, or where you are from, or what career you want to undertake - an apprenticeship can help you achieve what you want in your career and in your life. Apprenticeships are for everyone.
The Government has said it wants to see 3 million high quality apprenticeships by 2020, and they form the dominant part of the Government’s productivity drive. The responsibility for achieving this vision falls largely on the National Apprenticeship Service but ultimately it touches every part of Government.
To achieve this goal, we need to engage with more employers to ensure they offer apprenticeships, while simultaneously persuading learners that apprenticeships are the best route to realising their first choice career option, whatever it may be.
But, in addition to this, I also want the 3 million apprenticeships we will provide to reflect and be open to the widest possible spectrum of our society.
I want individuals from every community, every background, and every belief to be part of this skills revolution - so that apprenticeships and further education are genuinely an inclusive environment with a wide range of opportunities for people from all walks of life.
When we look at the current demographics of learners, it is clear that much more needs to be done to engage under-represented groups, to challenge persistent stereotypes, and to broaden access and encourage inclusive behaviour in skills training and apprenticeships.
MESSAGE: Nadhim Zahawi, MP
I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has made a commitment that the proportion of apprentices from BAME backgrounds will increase by 20 per cent by 2020. We will do this by engaging with BAME groups to understand the barriers to apprenticeships and providing targeted information and support.
We will also work with Local Enterprise Partnerships and other stakeholders to increase understanding of BAME employers’ specific recruitment needs, and to encourage and support employers to diversify their workforce by taking on BAME apprentices.
Apprenticeships equip people with skills that our employers and industries need to be successful and productive – and they make our economy more competitive. We need to reach out and recruit people into learning and education from all walks of life, not just to make up the numbers, but to reflect the perspectives and unique contributions of our richly diverse society.
Gaining new skills and experience is often a passport not just to greater career success but to greater confidence, self-belief, and contentment. Both anecdotal and official evidence shows us the value that apprenticeships bring to individuals who take part. Apprenticeships also provide a great route to progress, and continually improve your skills and your career, you can start at level 2 and work your way up to a higher or degree level apprenticeship.
But this will benefit not just those individuals involved, our whole economy can be transformed. Every industry can benefit hugely from the fresh thinking and different approaches that apprentices from diverse backgrounds bring, while opening up new pools of previously untapped talent.
Imagine the innovation, design, and enterprise potential that can be unleashed when a workforce is proportionately made up of the audience it serves. Widening access to apprenticeships is absolutely crucial in all sectors and for all demographics.
So, together, we will raise the profile of apprenticeships, the benefits they provide, and the revolutionising impact that they have on businesses and careers for everyone and anyone that takes them.