Five major cities across England have pledged to work to make apprenticeships more accessible to individuals from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and disadvantaged backgrounds.
The 5 Cities Project, launched by the UK Department for Education, will see the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) work with partners in the Greater Manchester, London, Bristol, Birmingham and Leicester areas to promote the take-up of apprenticeships among under-represented groups, including BAME, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Employers supporting the drive include B&Q, Rolls Royce, Optimity, and Interserve, as well as local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, apprenticeship providers, schools, and community groups.
Each city and its mayor have pledged to boost diversity in apprenticeships in their local area. For example, Greater Manchester aims to deliver a 16% BAME apprenticeship representation and Leicester will deliver an increase in apprenticeships for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The mayors will lead coordinated activity with local partners and NAS to help break down barriers and support BAME individuals to apply for apprenticeships.
This will also include promoting higher and degree level apprenticeships, as a great way to work with some of the UK’s key employers while learning at some of the UK’s top universities.
Members of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network, including the BBC and the University of Birmingham, will also support the project.
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We want Greater Manchester to be known for its fairness, equality and inclusion—a place where that everyone can get on in life and get into work, whatever your circumstances, background or aspirations. That’s why I’m proud that Greater Manchester is part of a pilot that’s going to celebrate the diversity of our city-region.”
NAS director Sue Husband said: “It cannot be right in this day and age that BAME individuals in England are, overall, less likely to be successful in their apprenticeship applications than their white counterparts—yet sadly this is what the statistics do show.”
“It is critical that we capture the talent of individuals from all backgrounds, and proactively work to remove any barriers that do exist—and that is why the 5 Cities Project is so important.”
Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton added that she was “thrilled” by the strong support for the 5 Cities Project.
“It’s great to be working together on our drive to make sure that everyone, whatever their background, can get onto an apprenticeship at whatever level suits them.”