From education to employment

The Genie Programme – squaring the playing field for apprenticeships and traineeships

Anna Morrison

The month of May marks the start of The Genie Programme (@Genie_Programme), 18 months in the making and the result of many years of seeing first-hand the magical and life-changing difference that apprenticeships and traineeships can have on individuals.

For me personally, The Genie Programme marks the start of something that I have been aware has been needed for many years. Like most of us, being aware of something is one thing, doing something can be a much bigger hurdle.

As we quote in our brochure “I wondered why somebody didn’t do something and then I realised, I am somebody”.

The origins of the programme have bubbled away in my mind for many years. That feeling of knowing you should help affect change, but how to bring those threads together into something that can make that change a reality? Something tangible but also unique, something that can help individuals to address the issues specific to their organisation and, in turn, the needs of so many.

There is a wide disparity when it comes to the vocational, educational and employment opportunities that exist across the UK. Where you grow up, which school you go to, which county you fall under and, of course, your upbringing and background have a huge impact on future opportunity and decisions.

Squaring the playing field when it comes to vocational education is at the heart of what The Genie Programme sets out to do. Every single one of us, whether aware or not, lives and works with challenges and bias in some form. Identifying that bias and working to awareness is a life-changing skill. Going one step further and putting systems, plans and methods in place to affect real change in an organisation requires support, knowledge, and a proven approach.

No matter your initial knowledge, squaring the balance is the right thing to do, but how to go about gaining the bigger picture, knowledge and the understanding needed to make a change?

The Genie Programme immerses participants in workshops and experiences, spending time with those most affected by the socio-economic divide, hearing from those who have successfully overcome many personal hurdles and challenges, being inspired by the latest research and thought-leadership around equality and fairness and working alongside those of a similar mindset, in order to address the most complex issue around apprenticeships – truly widening participation and diversifying the talent pool. Until companies, and the individuals that work for them, fully understand the complex challenges faced across the country, they will not be equipped with the tools, understanding, empathy or indeed even the widely acknowledged business reasons for actively supporting a wider range of talent.

You might ask why. Why I can be that ‘someone’ and why the Amazing Apprenticeships team is best placed to deliver this programme – the answer is understanding and experience. We have over 20 years experience working with government, employers, schools, colleges, training providers and stakeholders. We speak to and support individuals whether students, parents, those approaching a career change or carers from all backgrounds on a daily basis. We participate in reports, research and studies. We are involved in conferences and workshops and we work with leading commissions, committees, and organisations. We know the life-changing difference the right opportunity can make – both to individuals and the businesses that employ them, and we are especially aware of the many challenges around instigating change.

As I said earlier, we wondered why somebody hadn’t done something and then we realised how well placed we are to be that ‘somebody’.

The Genie Programme takes all this experience and knowledge, contacts and understanding to create an educational platform uniquely designed to inspire, inform and equip individuals at the fore of apprenticeship and traineeship recruitment and support, as to the most complex diversity and inclusion issues this country experiences. The programme teaches the skillsets to apply that knowledge honestly within an organisation, to directly impact how they move forward, creates a community of like-minded individuals and helps candidates in creating their own unique and detailed pitch for change.

I am delighted to be able to state that cohort 1 of The Genie Programme has now started as 10 brilliant individuals from 10 very different companies embark on the 12-month plan. I am incredibly excited to welcome Zurich, Coca-Cola, The Co-op, AstraZeneca, Portsmouth University, Premier Foods, The Open University, The NHS, Solent Apprenticeship Hub and B&Q representing a wide variety of sectors from retail to insurance, pharmaceutical to education, big names, SMEs and long-standing establishments.

Over the coming months, we will cover the journey that participants on the first cohort of The Genie Programme are experiencing – offering insight into the agenda, experience, speakers, visits and topics so keep an eye on our social posts.

If, like me, you’ve had that niggling feeling that you can do more. Whether that is ‘more’ to expand your own understanding and education, ‘more’ to affect change in your organisation, or a little of both, take a look at the Genie Programme website or get in touch with the team to see if The Genie Programme could be the instigator of that ‘more’ and make you realise ‘you are that somebody’.

Anna Morrison

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