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Are Apprenticeships really for everyone?

For the past few months I have been planning an apprenticeship event for the Routes2Success National Role Model Programme,

I haven’t taken much interest in apprenticeships and it is not a route to employment I am used to encouraging young people to take. However, in my new role as Routes2Success Programme Manager at BTEG, I have begun to explore alternative routes into employment and value them.

Earlier this year, I was watching the BBC News and realised how valuable apprenticeships can be as a route into employment. I saw many white working-class  and middle-class young male students who were starting apprenticeships that would lead in to long term-employment.  It made me ask – where are all the young black male students? Why aren’t they being represented here?

Then I remembered the research that was undertaken by BTEG on young BAME people and apprenticeships. I realised young black males were very much under-represented in apprenticeships for several reasons.

Some of the under-representation of young BAME people in apprenticeships is down to negative stereotypes from employers, self perceptions and cultural values of higher education. The question I asked myself was what can we do to bridge this gap?

As the unemployment rate for young black males is so high we need to get them to consider alternative routes to employment. Even many black graduates are finding it difficult to secure a job – is this just a lack of experience?

Apprenticeships can provide a young person with practical experience as well as increasing their employment networks; a barrier into employment that some young black males face.

The Trades Union Congress report in 2012 reported that 1 in 25 Black and Asian apprentices entered engineering (3.2 per cent), construction (3.4 per cent) and electro-technical (3.7 per cent) in 2011/12 – this is a very low proportion considering apprenticeships should be offered to all young people. This is also reflected in the labour market, as there are few BAME young people in engineering or construction jobs.

This research and its findings increased my need to host a Routes2Success event on apprentices, volunteering and work shadowing which would give young black males the opportunity to find out more about applying for an apprentice, interview skills and the benefits of getting hands on experience.

Apprenticeships are for everyone, but unless all young people are exposed to apprenticeships and the benefits of them, they will continue to be under represented. 

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