This Week (7-11 February) is National Apprenticeship Week, a celebration of the role that apprenticeships play in helping people to learn new skills while gaining access to a vast range of different career paths and businesses.
This year’s theme is ‘build the future’. For both starters and the organisations they join, apprenticeships are stepping into the company’s future workforce. As an employer, those starting one of your apprenticeships this year could be your organisation’s future leaders.
National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic opportunity to consider whether your organisation’s early careers strategy is helping you access the most diverse pool of talent available to you – and whether there’s more you could be doing to help empower people from different backgrounds to fully realise their potential.
Why should I offer apprenticeships?
Non-graduate entry routes into work are among the most valuable tools for promoting social mobility, and the route with the most potential is an apprenticeship.
The focus on learning new skills and helping people to become ‘career ready’, combined with the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace and get paid while they do, ensures that apprenticeships can have a huge impact on a job seeker. For those already in work or on low pay, apprenticeships can help them access the skills they need to progress within their organisation.
However, a decline in the numbers of apprenticeship starts in recent years (even before the pandemic) has been a concern. Although the decline occurred across all apprenticeship levels, it was felt most acutely in levels 2 and 3, where the majority of apprenticeships from lower socio-economic backgrounds are clustered.
By offering apprenticeships and targeting them effectively, your organisation can help to reverse this decline and ensure that young people from a range of backgrounds are able to develop the skills that they need for a career in your industry, and realise their potential.
How can I ensure my apprenticeships reach diverse talent?
When you’re young, it can be hard to know what your options are, and finding a path into the workplace that works for you can be difficult. There is so much information out there about careers, but if it’s not targeted at those who need it most, then it will fail to make an impact.
Your outreach scheme should aim to help future apprentices starters think seriously about a career in your industry. Do your research and make sure you have a plan. Think about whether your outreach efforts are clear, accessible, and consider working with partners to expand your reach.
What do I need to do to make sure my apprenticeships are inclusive?
In general, young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds face more challenges completing an apprenticeship than better off learners and may also find it harder to progress within their employer following completion.
For more information on how to make your apprenticeship scheme work better for starters from low socio-economic backgrounds – including on data collection, hiring, progression, outreach and inclusion – read our toolkit ‘Apprenticeships that work for all’.
Get involved this National Apprenticeship Week
On National Apprenticeship Week, organisations across the UK are coming together to promote the value and importance of apprenticeships, and there’s plenty of opportunities to get involved. Have a look at the events taking place as part of the week the National Apprenticeship Week website.
Today (Monday 7th February), SMC’s Employer Engagement Lead, Edward Donkor, will be joining Anna Morrison CBE and an esteemed panel of early careers experts for Amazing Apprenticeships’s event ‘Time for Change: Using apprenticeships to drive social mobility, diversity and inclusion’. Click here to sign up for the event
All week on the Commission’s Instagram and LinkedIn, we’ll also be sharing stories of young people who have secured an apprenticeship and used this as an opportunity to learn new skills and progress into new careers. Keep an eye out on our channels and feel free to share your stories with us.