Dedicated and focused action needed to tackle apprenticeships inequality

21 February 2017

Skills Minister Robert Halfon MP has today launched the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network which will promote diversity among employers and encourage more people from underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities, women, and members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, to consider apprenticeships.

Learning and Work Institute’s Chief Executive Stephen Evans commented:

“We fully support action to tackle inequality in access to apprenticeships. Too many groups face a participation penalty. Young people eligible for free school meals are half as likely to undertake a level 3 apprenticeship in parts of England. People from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are half as likely to succeed in their applications. Women make up 52 per cent of all apprenticeships but are much more likely to be in low-paid sectors

“This reinforces inequality and limits opportunity for individuals: they find their ladders of opportunity blocked off. But it also means employers miss out on the best potential talent. As Britain leaves the European Union, it is increasingly essential that we enable everyone to make the most of their talents – we cannot afford for anyone to be left behind.

“Dedicated and focused action is needed to tackle these inequalities. We want to see a regular access audit, an Apprentice Premium (mirroring the Pupil Premium) to focus funding where it’s needed, a new Quality and Access Fund to match efforts to widen participation in higher education, and promotion of apprenticeships in schools and communities.

“We look forward to seeing positive outcomes from the Diversity Champions Network.”