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Recap – Employers Masterclass: Apprenticeships

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Employers and training providers rely on apprenticeship programmes to provide new opportunities, upskill people from inside and outside their organisation and contribute to a more innovative, inclusive workforce.

In our latest masterclass we considered how an organisation’s early careers strategy could help access the most diverse pool of talent – and whether there’s more employers could be doing to help empower people from different backgrounds to fully realise their potential.

We were joined by Erica Holt-White, Sutton Trust, and Sharon Blyfield, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, who shared top tips on how employers could use their apprenticeship programmes to drive socio-economic diversity and inclusion

 

How can I ensure my apprenticeships reach diverse talent?

When you’re young, it can be hard to know what your options are, and it can be difficult to find a path into the workplace that works for you. There is so much information out there about careers, but if it’s not targeted at those who need it most, then it will fail to make an impact. The Sutton Trust’s apprenticeship outreach research published in late 2021 found that 1 in 4 young apprentices found the apprenticeship application process difficult to navigate. 

Your outreach scheme should aim to help future apprentice starters think seriously about a career in your industry. Do your research and make sure you have a plan. Think about whether your outreach efforts are clear and accessible, and consider working with partners to expand your reach.  For a list of possible partners, take a look at our Organisational Directory here:  https://socialmobilityworks.org/organisation-directory/


Setting a strategy 

Without an effective strategy for delivering your apprenticeship programme and tailored support for your learners, your scheme might run contrary to the principles that initially drove the decision to offer it, and mean you’re missing out on untapped talent. 

“It’s important to recognise the time, capacity, and resources required to deliver the most effective outreach programmes,” explained Erica Holt-White of Sutton Trust, based on the findings of their research.   

“We didn’t really have a joined up approach and we felt that if we wanted to get serious about early careers and apprenticeships, we really needed to think about how to do that in a much more centralised approach,” explained Sharon Blyfield of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP). 

 

Building links with partners  

One key aspect of a successful apprenticeship programme is building relationships with potential candidates at an early stage. Look for opportunities to connect and work with partners that will target groups you would like to attract. 

“Partnerships with other organisations were really important – especially to reach disadvantaged groups,” Erica explained.  

Partnerships can be the best way of achieving scale and reaching target groups via trusted organisations. 

Sharon described, “We weren’t able to do everything ourselves so we’ve looked to partner with a number of organisations. We work with Uptree, which is a small organisation who go into schools for us and talk about the organisation and the types of careers you can have.” 

 

Final thoughts 

Through a question from the audience on how organisations can develop ‘proof points’ for their interventions, the panel discussed methods of evaluation. Collecting data is an important tool in measuring your success, as it allows your organisation to pinpoint which interventions and actions have most impact.

If you haven’t yet, make sure to take a look at our apprenticeship toolkit here for more information on the steps you can take.

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