From education to employment

The first in the family to do an apprenticeship

Rishi Sunak and his government should be driving the nation to get to a position where people are proud to say that they are the first in the family to do an apprenticeship said Safaraz Ali the Founder of Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards and Alliance speaking at a joint session of the diversity and business groups at the National Liberal Club.

He stressed the importance of apprenticeships and the part that they can play in the Government’s levelling up agenda.

In his talk Safaraz said: “Were you the first in your family to go to university? The figures in terms of young people being first in their family to go to university has been declining after years of growth and being the first in your family to go to university used to hold a lot of prestige, thanks to the widespread idea that university enables social mobility.  This is possibly not the case anymore. Many students were attending low-performing universities which charge very high fees relatively speaking meaning that increasing the number of students entering university fails to improve social mobility.”

Safaraz also spoke about his life in business and his passion for giving everyone a chance in life and in some cases a second chance.

His own story was one of initially being failed by the education system, but he told the meeting that the ‘pain’ of realising that he had little prospects was the driver that made him ‘go again’ by getting a BTEC qualification before going on to get a degree in Banking and financial services from Birmingham City University.

His audience was told how skills and employability providers often have to respond to the whim of changes of direction and how contracts to supply to the public sector are hard to win and importantly maintain.

“The public sector generally is a tough task master and generally wants more for less, which is of course understandable.” he said.

Safaraz said that there is a long battle to get apprenticeships and other training programmes the same status as university degrees and to win proper recognition, especially amongst minority communities that continue to be underrepresented amongst apprentices.

Safaraz talked about how an annual award that he founded is helping to tackle the under representation of people from minority ethnic communities amongst apprentices.

This came out of a desire by Government to increase the number, whilst at the same time saying there was no money to do this.

Therefore, he and his team got on with it, establishing in 2016 the Asian Apprenticeship Awards, that became the BAME Apprenticeship Awards before being relaunched under the Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards Brand this year.

The awards are based upon the idea that the best people to promote apprenticeships are the apprentices themselves.

Talking about his own life from inner city Birmingham to the founder of multiple social enterprise initiatives, Safaraz told of how volunteering has helped him to expand his CV as well as provide valuable experience and this is the advice, he would give to anyone seeking growth in their career and business.

Volunteering and teaching English to refugees was the seed that has grown into the Pathway Group over the past 22 years and Safaraz stated that being a volunteer is not just giving back which is great and first and foremost but also plays an important part in improving a CV and gaining some real valuable experience.

At the heart of his presentation was the message that education and lifelong learning are key components to a growth mindset and success but most importantly that anyone, whatever their circumstances, can change their life chances.

He told the audience that he does not consider himself a natural born entrepreneur.

“I came to it late,” he added but also stating that we should strive to learn as well as teach and he quoted the saying ‘where one teaches, two learn’.

The interview and follow up debate went out to an audience that included, the international media, Bloomberg, Lambeth Council, one of the UK’s largest local authorities as well as senior members of the National Liberal Club. Afterwards, Safaraz said that taking the apprenticeship, skills, and employability messages to groups like the National Liberal Club is important as it informs people, including those with influence that would otherwise often be unaware

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