The Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN) has been launched today to help promote diversity within apprenticeships. The network of 23 employers includes organisations such as Roll Royce, BBC, BAE Systems and a number of small and medium sized employers.

The Network has been established to champion apprenticeships and diversity amongst 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. The Network will also build on the recommendations from the Maynard taskforce, which focused on issues faced by people with disabilities.

Nus Ghani MP, has been appointed as Chair of the Network, and will be responsible for setting and shaping the network’s objectives as well as working alongside the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon said:

“I am passionate about ensuring that everyone, no matter their background or age, can use apprenticeships to get on the ladder of opportunity to a successful career.

“Although last year saw record numbers of people with a disability or from disadvantaged backgrounds start on a high quality apprenticeship, we need to do much more. That is why it is vital that so many diverse employers have come together to pledge to do more to ensure apprenticeships are truly open to everyone.

“I am also extremely pleased that we are announcing Nus Ghani as the Chair – with her knowledge, commitment and expertise, I am sure she will do a brilliant job in making sure apprenticeships can work for as many people as possible.”

Chair of the Apprenticeships Diversity Championships Network, Nus Ghani MP said:

“An apprenticeship can be the first step to a life-enhancing career. It can open up opportunities, provide inspiration and allow someone to develop skills which will carry them through life. In a competitive and challenging labour market, apprenticeships can be the way in for many people who might otherwise not have dared to dream that there was a fulfilling career path for them.

“I am honoured to have been appointed by the Prime Minister as Chair of the Government’s Apprenticeships Diversity Champions Network. I am determined that anyone from anywhere, whatever their background and whatever their story, is able to access the life-changing opportunities that apprenticeships can offer. The benefits of earning whilst you are learning, coupled with professional certification, will help enable apprentices to achieve a competitive edge in the labour market. Our whole society benefits when aspiration and opportunity is extended to all, and those benefits encompass the economy, community cohesiveness and national pride.

 “I will be ambitious for apprentices and challenge all industries, public and private, to deliver quality apprenticeships across the country. As the economy goes from strength to strength we need to ensure that opportunities are available to all. I will be scrupulous in ensuring that the Diversity Champions Network opens up career options and delivers much needed skills for our traditional and emerging industries.”

The 23 employers in the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN):

- Bristol City Council
- DiVA
- United Utilities
- Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Enterprise rentals Business Support
- Telematics Business Solutions Ltd
- Minority Business Engagement HUB
- BAE Systems
- Rolls Royce
- Ilyas Patel Accountancy Services
- The Atomic Weapons Establishment
- NG Bailey
- BBC
- Brighton & Hove City Council
- Compass Group UK & Ireland Ltd
- Offer Moments
- Sunmark
- Balfour Beatty
- ISG
- Yorkshire Water
- Asda
- Kier Group
- Barclays

The Sector Response:

Maynard taskforce member and AELP research director Paul Warner said:

“We welcome the establishment of this network especially as SMEs who account for the majority of apprenticeship opportunities are properly represented.  AELP will encourage the network to push for full implementation of the Maynard Review, in particular the recommendation to allow flexible levels of English and maths attainment within apprenticeships for learners with learning difficulties.”

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.”

 

Isa Mutlib - Executive Director for BAME Apprenticeship Alliance comments: "We are delighted to hear that Robert Halfon has launched the Apprenticeship Diversity Network. Britain is a multi cultural and widely diverse nation. By having champions of apprenticeships representing diversity at its best, we hope that this paves the way for an increase in apprenticeship uptake from diverse backgrounds." 

 

Lindsay McCurdy, Chief Executive of Apprenticeships 4 England comments: “Apprenticeships 4 England supports 100% The Network that has been established to champion apprenticeships and diversity amongst employers and encourages more people from underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities, women and members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to consider apprenticeships.”

“App4England also hopes that the group looks at why people whose families are on benefits or on low incomes are also disadvantaged from starting an apprenticeship and are not able, due to financial reasons, to start an apprenticeship, as this would also increase numbers of starters from members of all communities, backgrounds and people with disabilities.”

Teresa Frith, Senior Skills Policy Manager for the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:

“The Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network is a positive move."

“Apprenticeships must continue to be a route for social mobility. As the apprenticeship levy opens up the market to more employers, it is vital that apprenticeships themselves are kept as open as possible to young people from all social backgrounds.”

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