From education to employment

Using Apprenticeships To #BlazeATrail For Promoting Diversity

Hema Tank is Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance

Apprenticeship Week is all about promoting different routes into careers. Apprenticeships have the advantage of being able to be tailored to an employer and the roles they need fill, as well as offering ‘earn while you learn’ benefits to apprentices.

They also help ensure that people from all backgrounds can consider careers in sectors they may not have considered before – and that helps employers ensure their workforces are diverse, with all the benefits that can bring.

We’re working with an increasing number of employers to develop apprenticeships in finance. Finance employers are keen to improve the diversity of their workforces for all kinds of reasons – for example to encourage innovation, and to ensure that their staff are representative of the diverse communities they serve and can fully reflect and appreciate their needs.

But, for many, a career in finance isn’t something that they would immediately consider.

So how do we help people understand that a career in finance could be a really good option – whether straight from school, from university or through an apprenticeship?

REACH events (Routes to Enhancing ACHievement)

We run regular REACH events (Routes to Enhancing ACHievement) aimed at 6th formers from minority communities. At these events we seek to encourage young people to think about pursuing a career in finance.

We’re fortunate to have inspiring speakers who talk to young people about their own experiences of trying to carve out careers in different sectors, and the barriers and challenges they’ve overcome.

One such speaker was Asif Sadiq, whose current role is Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at The Telegraph. His career started in policing, moved to finance and is now in the media – quite a mix!

When he struggled to get on the career ladder on leaving university, he joined the police but couldn’t progress beyond a certain point. He was able to move into finance – basically by networking. “I can’t emphasise the power of networking enough,” he said at the conference in February. He registered for any event he could, and met his new employers in the process. And he’s continued to build relationships and networks ever since.

But when you’re getting into any kind of professional career –  how do you overcome the feeling that you have to be ‘like everyone else’? His message was clear – be your authentic self.

He says more and more companies are actively looking to build a workforce of diverse individuals, and to hire employees that will innovate and challenge. That helps the organisation grow, evolve and keep pace with changes that are sweeping though countless sectors.

Apprenticeships have a clear role to play to increase diversity in the workforce and to open up opportunities to employees that can bring unique, and valuable, perspectives to any business.

I hope Apprenticeship Week will help us all continue to promote the benefits – for employers and potential employees.

Hema Tank, Associate Dean, The London Institute of Banking & Finance

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