Apprenticeship providers across Wales have produced a five-year blueprint focussed on delivering an inclusive Apprenticeship Programme which provides equal opportunities to currently under-represented groups of people.
The Apprenticeships Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy’s goal is to create a learning environment where everyone has the chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will allow, regardless of background.
By July 2026, the strategy aims to increase the number of Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) and disabled apprentices, female apprentices in construction and engineering and male apprentices in healthcare and the public sector.
Progress towards these goals will be closely monitored by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) to ensure that they are achieved.
The entire apprenticeship provider network was invited to contribute to the strategy, which was funded by the Welsh Government and written by Humie Webbe, Apprenticeships Strategic Equality and Diversity Lead, for the NTfW.
“The strategy has been developed by the Welsh Government’s contracted apprenticeship providers and aims to achieve an inclusive Apprenticeship Programme where current under-represented groups have equal opportunities to benefit,” said Humie.
“Our vision is to create a learning environment where everyone has the chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will allow, regardless of background. We want to ensure that apprenticeships are perceived to be for all and that barriers to participation are removed.
“It is an attainable vision where the Welsh Government, employers and apprenticeship providers work together to make apprenticeships accessible, fair and inclusive.”
Apprenticeships are set to play a vital role in the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 economic recovery plan. In the last four years, the Welsh Government has supported more than 100,000 apprenticeship starts in its term of office – 60% were undertaken by females, while 57% were learners aged 25 and over.
Hopes are high that even more young people will choose to become an apprentice in the future when the Curriculum for Wales 2022 will require schools to promote apprenticeships and provide more career focussed activities as part of a flexible learning programme.
The NTfW wants apprenticeships to become a valued choice for all as an ultimate goal and not an option which reinforces stereotypical norms.
The EDI strategy aims to achieve greater gender balance across the apprenticeship programme and to recognise and overcome barriers stopping disabled learners and those from BAME backgrounds from becoming apprentices.
Apprenticeship providers will develop equality, diversity and inclusion practice and knowledge of related legislation to support learners with additional needs relating to their culture, social, disability or health conditions.
They will also raise awareness of apprenticeships in Additional Learning Needs Centres and upgrade their skills to support learners who struggle to learn solely through online delivery.
The strategy says there is a need to challenge workplace attitudes and behaviour towards equality, diversity and inclusion to encourage more diverse recruitment. One of the main aims is to build employer awareness that disabilities, gender or ethnicity should not be a barrier in the workplace.
Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates said: “The Welsh Government has already achieved its target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in the Senedd term. This has provided important opportunities for apprentices of all ages to earn a wage whilst developing new skills and capabilities.
“This strategy will be crucial in building on that achievement and helping to drive inclusivity further which will support people in under-represented groups across Wales and address gender balance issues.
“I warmly welcome this development which has the potential to benefit individuals and firms the length and breadth of Wales.”