Work and Skills

Ground-breaking programme helped people from underrepresented groups find learning opportunities

  • More than 140 learners have benefitted from the Removing Barriers to Apprenticeships programme created to provide opportunities for underrepresented groups
  • New report finds most learners would not have found training without support from the programme
  • GMCA will use findings to create further opportunities and inform future projects to help open doors to apprenticeships

A PIONEERING programme created to help underrepresented groups find apprenticeship placements has supported more than 140 learners and unemployed people in Greater Manchester.

The Removing Barriers to Apprenticeships programme was created by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in 2020 to help underrepresented groups, such as people from ethnic minorities, single parents and people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) access apprenticeships. A total of £328,000 was handed to local organisations to assist them in attracting, recruiting and supporting new apprentices while on the programme.

The seven projects to have received funding include:

  • Men in the Early Years – A collaboration between Kids Planet nursery provider and the Fatherhood Institute which offered 12 apprenticeship placements for men
  • BAME Engineers – A total of 20 pre-apprenticeship places and 10 apprenticeships were offered to BAME young people to learn engineering skills in Rochdale
  • SCC Supported Apprenticeships – Salford City Council, Salford City College, ForHousing and Career Connect created 10 supported apprenticeships for young SEND learners
  • Single Parent TA’s – Rochdale Training, Rochdale Borough Council, Positive Steps and Job Centre Plus created Teaching Assistant apprenticeship placements for single parents
  • Digital Supported Apprenticeship – The White Room, Total People, Manchester City Council and Pure Innovations developed placements in the digital sector for SEND young people
  • Oldham 16–25-year-olds – Oldham Council, Northern Care Alliance and Positive Steps offered 10 placements to young people with additional barriers to employment
  • Coldhurst Ward, Oldham – Single parents, people from ethnic minorities and those with mental health conditions living in the Coldhurst ward offered placements in Healthcare Assistant and Business Administration roles

A total of 147 learners across Greater Manchester took part in the scheme. As a result, by January 2022, 144 of the participants have since been recruited onto training projects and 31 people have started on an apprenticeship. A new report, commissioned by GMCA, found that most of these learners thought they would not be in training if they had not participated in the programme.

Others taking part in the programme said they were able to find full-time employment, while a number of learners said they learned new skills such as in health and safety.

Rukiya Begum, in her 30s, was one of the learners to take part in the Coldhurst Ward programme in Oldham and said it has since ‘changed her life’. Rukiya was previously working for Debenhams but became unemployed when the retailer went into liquidation. She is now working towards a Level 4 qualification in Careers, Information, Advice and Guidance.

Rukiya said: “I was told there was no such thing as adult apprentices, my chance is done and dusted.

“The course itself gave me confidence. Before I was very quiet, I thought I wasn’t clever enough or I would say something wrong. I then made classmates, I would sit at the front of the class. It gave me motivation.

“It changed my life a lot in the fact I am now doing things for myself. I wish it had happened to me earlier. It is an 18-month contract, within those 18 months I get paid and a qualification.”

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, GMCA Portfolio Lead for Education, Skills, Work, Apprenticeships and Digital, said: “In Greater Manchester, we want apprenticeships to be accessible to everyone. Your age, ethnicity or gender should not be a barrier to anybody wanting to progress in their career. However, nationally and in Greater Manchester, data shows that a number of underrepresented groups are not accessing apprenticeship opportunities and there is a lack of diversity among our apprentices.

“This report shows the Removing Barriers to Apprenticeships programme has been a huge success and we will now continue to use the results to inform future projects and create further opportunities for learners to access apprenticeships in the city-region, ensuring that all our residents can benefit from the opportunities available.”

The Removing Barriers to Apprenticeships funding forms part of a wider commitment in Greater Manchester to increase the number of high-quality apprenticeships available to our residents. GMCA will be using the findings of the programme report to inform future development and delivery. It is hoped new projects can be targeted for the biggest impact for Greater Manchester.

Young people (aged 11-30) are encouraged to utilise the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship and Careers Service (GMACS) to explore options for their future. With over 100,000 users, the site is part of the Mayor’s commitment to ensure every young person across the city-region has access to opportunities and no one is left behind. GMACS is a hub of tools, resources, opportunities, events and more, bringing together different stages of the career planning process to help young people.

Read the full evaluation report into Removing Barriers to Apprenticeships

Article Published: 08/07/2022 11:39 AM