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Apprentices: Ethnic Groups

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL13285, tabled on 10 February 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase participation rates of people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities in apprenticeship programmes.

Answered on

24 February 2021

Apprenticeships benefit people of all ages and backgrounds, and we want to ensure that more people from underrepresented backgrounds can undertake them, particularly those that offer higher wage returns and progression opportunities.

We are pleased to have seen positive outcomes in the representation of people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background in apprenticeships, with a particular increase in the proportion of higher-level apprenticeship starts. In the 2019/20 academic year apprentices from BAME backgrounds accounted for 13.3% starts compared to 12.5% starts in 2018/19. At higher levels, level 4 and above, BAME representation exceeds the national working age population, sitting at 16% for 2019/20 academic year.

During National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we announced the new chair of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network, my hon. Friend, the Member for Great Grimsby, Lia Nici, who will be responsible for setting and shaping the network’s objectives, working alongside the department.

The network champions apprenticeships and diversity amongst employers and encourages people from underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities, women and people from BAME backgrounds, to consider apprenticeships. It currently has 88 members including Channel 4, Siemens Plc, Lloyds Banking Group and several NHS Trusts.

We are building on this work to ensure that we continue to see improved representation of people from BAME backgrounds starting apprenticeships, especially in sectors that carry historic under-representation. We will work closely with these sectors to understand why this is the case, and to co-develop targeted solutions. We will also be working extensively with employers, with a particular focus on small to medium sized businesses, to understand what barriers they face in taking on apprentices and how they can support apprentices from different backgrounds. We will also be working closely with BAME representative groups to further understand how to retain and support progress for people from BAME backgrounds.

To encourage those from underrepresented groups to consider apprenticeships, we are promoting apprenticeships in schools across England through our Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge programme. This free service provides schools and teachers with resources and interventions to help better educate young people about apprenticeships and traineeships.