Apprenticeship Diversity Matters

Apprenticeship Diversity Matters

5 Minute Read

Is Manchester Diverse When it comes to Apprenticeships?

On the 25th May 2020, a man named George Floyd died while in police custody in America. Since the birth of smart phones and social media, the amount of racial attacks seems more prevalent than ever; Whether these attacks are from the police or a next door neighbour. Racial attacks and profiling have been around for generations, yet it was George Floyds’ death that sparked a revolution. Since his death there have been protests, discussions and changes all over the world surrounding the treatment of those from black, Asian, Hispanic, indigenous and gender communities. This is an incredibly important discussion for everyone, as it effects every aspect in life especially in the workplace. Across the UK just 1.5% of bosses are black,  only 6 women run FTSE 100 companies and a third have no ethnic representation on their boards.

As one of the most diverse cities in the UK, surely Greater Manchester doesn’t fall in to these statistics when it comes to employment and apprenticeships. Right?

Ethnic Diversity in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester has become a hub for diversity from the food we eat to the holidays celebrated; and has the highest percentages of non-white ethnicities in the UK. 66.7% of Manchester residents are white, 17.1% Asian, 8.6% Black, 4.7% mixed race, 1.9% Arab and 1.2% other. Across the the city are areas which show just how diverse Manchester is; including Wilmslow road (famously known as The Curry Mile) to Chinatown (2nd largest in the UK, 3rd largest in Europe) just off Portland Street. Yet it isn’t just central Manchester that is this diverse. The North West overall is diverse with areas such as Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale and Blackburn/Burnley having diverse communities.

However, studies have shown that the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) are 3 times more likely to be unemployed; and those of black backgrounds are 5 times more likely to be homeless. Studies also show that those of BAME backgrounds have a 47% higher chance of having zero-hour contracts or hired for roles that are deemed precarious.

But what about apprenticeships? Are they more diverse?

Across the country only 10.5% of apprentices are from a non-white background. From applications to GOV’s Education and Skills Funding Agency, 19% of applicants were BAME; with candidates from a white background is 2x more likely to be hired. When it comes to male/female apprentices, more females apply for these positions than men. Yet studies show that pay, sector and progression varies drastically between the two.

So what can we do to ensure ethnic and gender diversity is in the workplace? How can apprenticeships change the stigma around diversity?

Apprenticeship Diversity in Manchester

Apprenticeships across Great Manchester and the North West have been increasing drastically over the last few years. Many are now starting to realise that Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to progress into a dream career. As of April 2019 there were 22,661 apprenticeships starts in Greater Manchester, which was an increase of 14% from the same time last year; but from those hired 73.2% were white, compared to 20.8% who were BAME in 2018/19.

Here at 360 Apprenticeships we pride ourselves on inclusivity and giving each candidate the chance to find the right apprenticeship, no matter their race or gender. When sourcing for candidates we try to speak to everyone; A CV only shows you their experiences and qualifications, not their personalities. By contacting each candidate (whether they are male/female or from a BAME background) we can clearly know if they would be right for that position. They may not be right for one role, but could be the perfect apprentice for another. This means that we give as many apprentices as possible more than one opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship.

A first hand account

Alisha who started a Business Administration Apprenticeship in 2019, gives account on her past experiences that she dealt with in the workplace;

As a young mixed race girl, it had been engrained into me from a young age that due to the colour of my skin, it could affect my chances of getting better paid jobs.

My very first job was working at a coffee shop age 16, the only black person who worked there. I did feel like the odd one out with many occasions. Some colleagues of mine would ask me how long I had lived in the country for (Not even thinking for a second I may have actually been born in this country!). As the coffee shop I worked in catered a lot to elderly people, there were times I got some strange looks whilst serving, I never understood why as I was always polite and courteous. I did not think for a second it could be anything to do with my skin colour.

Whilst in college I was lucky enough to have the chance to work for a community TV station. My job was to explore and write about Black History within the local community. This job really opened my eyes to the ¨Casual Racism¨ which exists in our society and normalised so easily. From some of the very first black people who came to this country on Windrush in terms of employability, they have mostly been met with the menial and lower paid jobs; despite having the same skills and experience as their white counterparts.

Since I started working for 360 as a full time consultant in a very diverse environment, I have still come across discriminative and sexist employers in 2020. I still find it very difficult that an employer may judge someone because of their race or gender, and not on the personality and skillset which makes them suitable for the apprenticeship.

 I feel a lot more comfortable and confident in my abilities as a worker and believe I will be able to climb the career ladder and pursue more managerial roles based on my skill set alone; rather than being held back because of the colour of my skin.

So what can we do to be BAME inclusive in the workplace?

There are steps that can be taken by employers and directing mangers to improve the inclusivity of BAME Apprentices. Some of the steps that can be taken include:

Recognising that the business should address diversity

Whether you are the hiring or directing manager, set out questions that tackle the issues of diversity. Below are example questions below of what you could set out to see what steps need to be taken. Ask yourself:

  • Is the workforce predominantly white?
  • Do your current BAME employees feel as if they aren’t heard or alienated?
  • Is your business in a diverse city and do you feel that it represents that?

Setting question such as this will help you as a manager to start setting targets and moving towards a more diverse workforce.

Don’t hire BAME candidates to tick boxes

If you answered any of the questions above and found that you could be more inclusive, this is you time to change. However, you need to be careful that you don’t start to hire people just to make your business look good. Hiring employees from other ethnic backgrounds shouldn’t be seen as a tick box exercise; but as a way to enrich your business. Studies have shown that companies with a diverse work force are 33% more likely to see higher profits.

Judge the CV not the name

A study from Oxford University showed that someone from a BAME community had to send 80% more applications than those from white backgrounds. Another study by Inside Out London took that study and put it into practise. They sent out 2 CVs with identical skills and qualifications for an Adam Henton and a Mohamed Allam. They found that Adam Henton was 3 times more likely to be offered an interview.

It can be easy to judge a person by their CV; but having an open mind (whether this be for an apprenticeship or managerial role) may just help your business to be more inclusive.

The Apprenticeship Levy – Does it help?

It isn’t just those from BAME backgrounds that struggle to find apprenticeships. Known as ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds, many across the UK from these areas also find positions and roles harder to secure. A disadvantaged background can be seen as those from a different socio-economic background – those that don’t have the opportunity to go to university and pushed into the labour markets at an early age’.

One aspect that has a hindrance is the Apprenticeship LEVY that was established in 2017. The LEVY is available to businesses who pay an annual of £3 million through payroll and with over 250 employees. But since its introduction, apprentices from disadvantaged areas:

  • clustered in apprenticeships at lower levels – 48% of disadvantaged starters were enrolled into an intermediate apprenticeship in 2017/18, compared with only 41% of starters from non-disadvantaged backgrounds
  • clustered in low-paying subject areas at higher apprenticeship levels, particularly for women
  • had shorter planned apprenticeship durations than their peers within higher-earning subject areas such as: engineering, construction and Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

For many, their only chance to find a stable career is to be offered the opportunity; many can be turned away just for the simplest reasons including their location or grades; yet they could be the perfect candidate for your role. Apprenticeships were designed to give everyone a chance to move into a stable job and move up the career ladder. But if large businesses aren’t giving them the opportunity to prove themselves, then this cycle will continue to grow.

Gender Equality

There have been massive strides when it comes to gender equality, from the suffragette movement organised by Manchester born Emmeline Pankhurst to the vibrant and accepting area of the infamous Gay Village. But there is still a long way to go until everyone can be truly seen as equal.

In Manchester 73,000 fewer women are employed then men, with an overall gender pay gap of 14.7% (7.2% difference in hourly earnings). Yet on average there is a high percentage of Females to Males in many areas across Manchester. So why is their still gender inequality? What causes this and what can we do to improve this?

Get rid of stigmas around women workplace

For hundreds and even thousands of years, women were only seen as someone who was to give birth and cook. But that isn’t the case anymore, with women becoming more independent and forging their own paths. But there are stigmas surrounding women in the workplace that affect many from promotions and moving forward in the business. One stigma that is often stated is how women are ‘too emotional’, and due to this unable to become a boss or board member.

Childbirth is another factor seen as a hindrance due to the amount of time needed away from the workplace. Looking after a new born child does take time, but this didn’t stop New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern from running a country.

LGBT+ community

In the last decade, the acceptance of the LGBT+ community has grown drastically. But many still face inequality or prejudice especially in the workplace. The fear of facing homophobia can stop many from coming out in work or even applying for jobs. Gay and lesbian job seekers are 5% less likely to be offered a job interview than heterosexual applicants with comparable skills and experience.

During a survey conducted by the government, 23% had experienced a negative or mixed reaction from others in the workplace due to being LGBT, or being thought to be LGBT. 57% said it was perpetrated by a colleague at the same or lower level.

But how can we change this?

All you need to do is ask

A way opportunities can become more available for everyone is to ask the team members themselves. Ask your colleagues or employees: What are your worries? Have you come across any sexism, gender bias? Do you feel alienated? Even have a look at doing a survey to gather all the information. Once the information is collated and reviewed, a roadmap can be laid out to make the workplace more inclusive and safer for everyone.

Change the way job roles are perceived

When it comes to jobs in areas like construction, engineering, IT or more labour intensive positions, we automatically think of that as a ‘mans’ job. In construction roles such as working on building sites, 99% of workers are men. But what can we do to change this?

  • Some job descriptions may be written towards men, so have a look at wording and language – this may start to entice women to apply.
  • Have a look at opportunities and benefits – are the benefits and opportunities that you have in place inclusive for women and the LGBT community?
  • Training Programs (This can apply to any role and apprenticeship that offer training in the workplace) – check if your programs would appeal to all genders e.g. ask what training your employers would like to improve on, does the training appeal to one group more then the other (if so have a look at how it can become more inclusive). 

So how can the apprenticeship scheme improve diversity?

The great thing about apprenticeships is you can train the apprentice to fit in perfectly with your business and bring more ideas to the chosen role. By looking outside of the usual talent pool, you can find different skills and approaches to working and improve productivity.

An apprenticeship not only helps you and your business, it can also help candidates from BAME and minority communities. Most young people from ethnic backgrounds carry on to further education, yet can end up working in low income or insecure work. Apprenticeships can help break this cycle and introduce them to secure and well paid sectors, while continuing to learn and gain well recognised qualifications.

By hiring BAME apprentices, it will show that apprenticeships are a great way to move into the world of work and help businesses in Manchester to become more inclusive in the years to come.

How 360 Apprenticeships can help

No matter if you are the manager of a small team or the owner of country wide business, 360 Apprenticeships can help you find the perfect apprentice(s). We provide a free service from first point of contact to the successful placement of each apprentice. Every apprentice who is successful will only be placed with the best training providers (Graded 1 and/or 2 by Ofsted) so you know that they will be in safe hands.

You can find out more regarding the apprenticeship scheme on our website. To speak to one of our recruiters directly, you can contact us on:

0161 4644805

or email us at [email protected]. You can also find us on social media:

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