For over a century, apprenticeships have played an important role in developing Rolls-Royce’s reputation for creativity and excellence. For us, diversity is essential to maintaining our world class offer, and we are looking to its apprenticeship programme to ensure it builds an inclusive next generation of inspiring innovators.
Making a difference
With a long and proud history of apprenticeships, Rolls-Royce has experienced the many advantages of developing the careers of young people. With several of our leadership team being former apprentices, we’re aware of the pipeline of talent and potential our apprenticeships can develop.
With an array of programmes and levels on offer covering all areas of business from engineering to accounting, we have around 600 apprentices across the UK at any one time.
Diversity is a key priority for us, and Rolls-Royce has embarked on a series of diversity initiatives to attract talent from underrepresented groups – primarily focusing on engaging women, BAME and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds in STEM subjects.
In line with this company-wide agenda, we are keen to champion diversity through our apprenticeship programme. In order to continue to be innovative, an inclusive culture and diverse workforce is critical to us. That’s why in 2014, we set an ambitious global target to reach 6 million people through STEM education programmes and activities by 2020. We believe bold targets encourage a more creative and engaging outreach. Apprenticeships are one of the ways in which we can attract talented individuals, from all walks of life, and at the very beginning of their careers.
To formalise our commitment to diversity, we have joined the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN) as we believe that when you make a public commitment, it further galvanises the organisation to deliver. We are fortunate to have a successful and established apprenticeship programme, but there’s always room to learn from others and improve. The ADCN provides us with the opportunity to share some of the things we’ve learned from running apprenticeships, as well as the chance to work with other employers – both big and small.
Through the ADCN, Rolls-Royce has made a number of public pledges to better diversity in our apprentice cohort. We are focusing on encouraging more women into STEM subjects and aiming to double the number of girls currently on our work experience programme, encouraging a 50/50 split by gender.
In addition to providing 600 work experience placements, we are recruiting 20 young apprentices. These apprentices will be aged 14 and will spend one day a week at the business for two years. Reaching out to youngsters before they make the big decisions on their education or future careers is a great way to encourage young people into STEM subjects. Through doing this, we hope apprenticeships will emerge as a more accessible alternative route into these kinds of careers and inspire those from underrepresented groups to consider this path.
We are also collaborating with other major industry organisations to design a ‘Women in Apprenticeships’ toolkit for employers. Working with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), The Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance (SEMTA), and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), we are creating a toolkit to assist employers, who might not have extensive resources, in attracting, engaging and supporting women in apprenticeships. As a big company, we accept we have a significant part to play in ensuring change happens. We need to ensure that smaller businesses, including those in our supply chains and wider sector, also have the tools to attract diverse talent into their businesses.
With a number of activities in place across the business, Rolls-Royce feel optimistic about what we can achieve through our pledges and the ADCN, not only for our own business but wider society.
We want to demonstrate how incredibly proud we are of our apprentices and our apprenticeship programme. By joining the ADCN we can show we’re dedicated to continually improving apprenticeships at Rolls-Royce, as well as make a valid contribution to changing the industry and society for the better.
Paul Broadhead, Head of Community & Education Outreach, Rolls-Royce
Click here to find out more about the Apprenticeship Diversity Champion Network.