Apprenticeships: A Real Alternative
As someone who has been involved in work-based learning for a number of years, it still surprises me when I see the statistics relating to BAME groups undertaking apprenticeships. The latest data from the Government’s Race Disparity Audit indicates that BAME Apprentices make up just 12% of apprenticeship starts in England, which is in fact an increase on previous years. Rail and transport have seen an increase in BAME uptake, while film and TV apprenticeships have launched a charter pledging to increase diversity; however, further work is needed to address the imbalance evident in apprenticeships across key sectors.
I ask myself why are BAME groups so underrepresented? Could it be because the message around apprenticeships – for example the marketing of their benefits - is not widely spread, or are there not enough opportunities out there for BAME young people and adults to be employed as apprentices? Are the benefits of apprenticeships sufficiently highlighted?
It is a shame to think that they are not. I have seen people from all social backgrounds excel in their careers after completing an apprenticeship, and they are on offer in numerous professions including engineering, finance, hospitality, healthcare, administration and business studies. You can also undertake apprenticeships up to Levels 5 and 6 (the equivalent of Bachelors and Masters’ degree level), making it a realistic alternative to full-time university study.
Apprenticeships allow individuals to learn in the workplace and gain valuable work experience and life skills along the way. The average apprentice wage earnings with reputable companies is around £18K-£21K, with some apprenticeship jobs paying as much as £30k, depending on the role and field. An apprenticeship may also potentially lead to full-time employment with the company you completed it with. There is increasing recognition also that apprenticeships are a great opportunity for employers to upskill existing employees and attract new talent; Marks and Spencer and Lloyds Banking Group are two examples of companies that have recently come on board with their own schemes. Other schemes have also been introduced in public sector services like the NHS.
If you or anyone you know are currently considering your next career steps, apprenticeships are definitely worth including in your research - whatever your educational level or age.