Apprenticeships - opportunities for all

Apprenticeships - opportunities for all

Impact have a strong history of working with apprentices and with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy we have been helping clients to work out how to make the most of this exciting opportunity. We are passionate about creating organisations worth working for and for any organisation to be truly that, they need to be doing the right thing for the right reasons. The apprenticeship levy is a great opportunity to be a responsible organisation by improving the quality of education for their employees at every level and from every background.

Recently, Mike Thompson from Barclays spoke at one of our monthly Learnfest in the City events to tell us about how they responded to a call from the government in 2012 for businesses to do more to tackle the lack of diversity in the workplace. In the UK, young (16-24 year old) BAEM (Black, Asian, ethnic minorities) are twice as likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. This percentage difference rises even further for those who are disabled compared to those without any disabilities. Furthermore, there are also one million people over 50 years of age who want to work but are currently unemployed.

Barclays recognised that they had similar diversity problems within their organisation and set out to change this by scrapping rules they had about needing certain academic criteria and previous experience, as well as looking for candidates where no other companies were looking.

At the event Mike was joined by Jamala Osman whose story about her apprenticeship at Barclays was a perfect example of why introducing apprenticeships for the right reasons is so important. Jamala told us how at the age of 14 she lost her mum, got thrown out of her house and fell in with the wrong crowd who were making poor life decisions. She knew this wasn’t the path she wanted to go down so studied hard at school and college but wasn’t able to go to university due to caring for her younger brother and sister. Her lack of qualifications and work experience would have usually meant she wouldn’t have been able to get a position at Barclays, but their new approach meant that people like Jamala didn’t slip through the cracks.

Not only was the apprenticeship beneficial for Jamala herself; being the first person in her family to graduate after 3 years of hard work and finding herself as branch manager for one of Barclays biggest branches at the age of only 21; it was also hugely beneficial to Barclays being able to find talent that would have usually been missed. This is just one of many stories that means Barclays now have a much improved workplace diversity, including 3000 digital natives who have been pivotal in transforming their digital business, and many other talented individuals developing into senior roles across the business.

This example shows how, if approached in the right way, working with apprentices doesn’t just help build an organisation worth working for, it can transform people’s lives. To find out more about how Impact can help you get the best from the apprenticeship levy then please get in touch here.

Richard Parker is a Consultant at Impact UK.