Tom Pritchard, Employer Relationships Manager, Amazing Apprenticeships

Amazing Apprenticeships (@AmazingAppsUK) recently hosted our latest Time for Change webinar, which included a fascinating panel discussion with apprenticeship and recruitment specialists from the University of Oxford, House of Commons and MoD that saw us asking two big questions:

  1. Why do diverse and disadvantaged talent select out of certain apprenticeship opportunities?
  2. What can employers do about it?

These questions are so big, that they warrant a deeper dive into why the people who could gain the most from apprenticeships might opt-out of roles designed with them in mind.

What do we mean by self-selecting out?

To self-select out is to voluntarily opt out of something (in this case an apprenticeship employment opportunity) in accordance with one’s personality, background, interests or priorities.

No one makes the decision for the individual in this scenario. Although a whole range of circumstances and factors can impact the decision-making process, it is ultimately a personal choice.

The state of play

The last 12 months have seen reports from the Social Mobility Commission, Sutton Trust and others demonstrating that a whole range of diverse and disadvantaged groups are hugely underrepresented in apprenticeships.

As always, the reasons for this are multi-faceted and complex, comprising of a whole range of complicated, emotive and interconnected reasons. But one thing we do know is that potential apprentices regularly self-select of opportunities they would qualify for. Why?

What apprentices are telling us

We talk every week to apprentices and potential apprentices about these issues. They’ve told us that they have opted out of opportunities because of:

Their perceptions of an employer:

  • Companies that fail to highlight diversity and inclusion in their company culture miss out on a range of candidates who self-select out of the process.
  • Millennials and Gen Z cite the importance of diversity to them, and 77% of them want to work for diverse, inclusive companies.
  • LinkedIn research showed that companies who talk about diversity received 26% more job applications from women.

 Advertising and recruitment processes don’t feel inclusive:

  • This is true for a wide range of candidates – for example, we know that 9% of candidates with disabilities drop out of job applications early because there are usability issues with a careers page or the actual application process.
  • The imagery or language on an employer website or job description can be alienating.
  • A simple ‘D&I statement’ on a website can feel tokenistic – simply an add on.
  • If there is no long-standing reputation for inclusivity, applicants won’t even explore the opportunities.

 Lack of confidence in support / progression routes:

  • Supporting diverse and disadvantaged talent can be costly – from individual support to facilitated networks.
  • The YEUK Youth Voice Census showed that young people are particularly worried about discrimination based on LGBT+, race, gender or disability.
  • Concern about lack of support is often professional, as well as pastoral - applicants may not be confident in how valued they will be, and in medium/long-term opportunities after their programme ends.

 Applicants do not understand the breadth of opportunities within the organisation:

  • Being particularly well known for one thing can be a double-edged sword, for local, national and international employers.
  • Employers often recruit for a range of apprenticeships outside their primary function – if this isn’t effectively communicated to potential applicants then they may not even think to look at an employer’s vacancies.

 What employers are telling us

 Interestingly, we hear many of the same issues from employers as we do from potential applicants:

  • Brand and offer perception can be a challenge. People misunderstand the business or the breadth of opportunities on offer.
  • It can be hard to find/reach the most disadvantaged – especially once people are outside of the schooling system.
  • Employers struggle with approach, with internal challenges, and with joining the conversation with confidence.
  • High drop-out rates occur during the application process, often due to time and/or stages in the process that aren’t accessible.
  • Cultural, familial or social biases against apprenticeships are widespread.
  • The number of applicants is not the issue, attracting a broad range of diverse talent is.

What’s the answer?

It’s clear that being vocal about diversity and inclusivity, genuinely bringing it into every facet of an organisation – both outward and inward-facing - is imperative to begin to address the reasons such talent self-selects out. It’s also clear it is by no means, and can never be, a quick fix. Investing in diversity and inclusivity, making it part of the core culture and ensuring it weaves seamlessly in an organisation takes work, time and commitment.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution or silver bullet here, the panel of employers on our Time for Change webinar shared some amazing insight, experience and practical tips on how to start addressing the challenge of self-selecting out, better communicating who you are as an organisation, and making sure everyone feels welcome, support and valued.

Tom Pritchard, Employer Relationships Manager, Amazing Apprenticeships

You can catch up with the session here to find out just what The University of Oxford, Ministry of Defence and House of Commons had to say.

If you are interested in exploring the discussion further, take a look at The Genie Programme, specifically designed to motivate and engage professionals with the complex, emotive and intersectional issues that make up the D&I and social mobility agenda.

The Genie Programme

In May 2021 we launched The Genie Programme – a ground-breaking, year-long programme that empowers motivated, engaged professionals to engage fully with the complex, emotive and intersectional issues that make up the D&I and social mobility agenda.

The programme takes a deep dive into issues like those influencing the decision to self-select out, helps delegates to join the conversation with sensitivity and confidence, and empowers them to use the learning to affect real positive change in how their organisation attracts, supports and develops diverse talent.

The programme’s first cohort, featuring delegates from Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, AstraZeneca, the NHS, the Open University and more leading employers, is already underway – and we are currently taking expressions of interest from employers for the second cohort, due to start the programme in October 2021.

Genie News 3 708x482 c center

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Neil Richardson commented on Five things Nadhim Zahawi needs to immediately get a grip on 4 hours 40 minutes ago

Is a 'love of learning' far from common among tutors/students,
and (Love being blind, madness, a...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page