I totally share the Prime Minister's commitment to create a country that works for everyone. A crucial component of achieving this is providing our young people with the opportunity to get on and get up in life irrespective of their background. Apprenticeships are a cornerstone of the plan to make our vision a reality. They provide life changing opportunities for our young people; allowing them to earn whilst they learn a new skill and offering a direct path into a career. As such they are the perfect vehicle for enabling greater social mobility.
I want to use this National Apprenticeship Week to reach as many people as possible and share with them the opportunity that apprenticeships can provide to them, their family or their business. Furthermore, as the Chair of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN), I am committed to helping provide more apprenticeships to people from BAME backgrounds. The Government has rightly demonstrated its commitment to making apprenticeships more diverse and inclusive by not only aiming to create 3 million more apprentices by 2020, but also targeting a 20% increase in BAME apprentices by the same year.
I am proud that ADCN members are already introducing cutting edge, thought leading approaches to recruitment, selection and progression, to ensure that they truly advocate fairness for all. For example: the BBC have moved to strength based interviewing, Barclays have partnered with organisations such as the Princes Trust to deliver employability programmes, Keir have launched internal diversity training which should reach over 20,000 employees, and along with Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Balfour Beatty and AWE are delivering apprenticeship advice to tens of thousands of students from disadvantaged areas and schools with a high proportion of BAME students.
All ADCN members are employers who share my belief that someone's future should not be determined by their past. All have made a conscious decision to help remove obstacles – and ensure that there truly is a level playing field from which candidates, no matter their ethnicity, can take a shot at securing an apprenticeship.
Whilst great strides have already been made, and recent statistics are encouraging, there remains a huge amount of work to do. As Yorkshire Water said to me recently, there is no such thing as hard to reach groups, we just need to reach them differently. This is our driving force as we strive to grow our network and increase our reach. I would encourage more employers to make a pledge to the ADCN and join our ever growing network. Not only is increasing diversity the right thing to do, it also make good business sense; it really is a no brainer to tap the potential of as wide a talent pool as possible when recruiting. More information on how to apply to join our network is available here.
Furthermore, if you are a parent or a young person thinking about your post school plans then I would urge you to consider the positively transformational impact that an apprenticeship could have on your life. Whatever your dream there is likely to be an apprenticeship which can help you to achieve it. You can find out more about how to become an apprentice here.
Apprenticeships really do work for individuals and for businesses. I am utterly committed to ensuring that the opportunities that apprenticeships offer are available to everyone; wherever they come from. Please help me to make this ambition a reality.
This piece was written by Helen Grant MP for the Voice newspaper. Pictured is Helen Grant MP with Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills.
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