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More young people from diverse backgrounds will benefit from Modern Apprenticeship opportunities thanks to a new action plan from the national skills body.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has launched its Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland.

The five-year plan sets out action SDS and partner organisations will take to address the low numbers of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, young disabled people and care leavers entering Modern Apprenticeships. 

Apprenticeship areas where there are gender imbalances, for example females in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related apprenticeships will also be tackled by the plan.

The Equalities Action Plan follows the Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce (DYW) report which set an ambitious target of increasing the number of Modern Apprentices in Scotland from 25,000 to 30,000 by 2021.

The report also laid out a set of recommendations around increasing apprenticeship participation from under-represented groups.  

Driving forward change

The plan includes SDS’s Equality Challenge Fund activity. The fund is aimed at innovative projects involving equality partners, charities, colleges, training providers and employers to get more young people from under-represented groups onto Modern Apprenticeships.

SDS Depute Director of National Training Programmes, Katie Hutton, said: “We are fully committed to driving forward change that will make an enduring difference.

“Feedback from stakeholders has been invaluable to the development of the plan.

“The plan sets out the main reasons underlying current Modern Apprenticeship participation levels.

“It also details both what we and our partners have done, and will do, to encourage equality of opportunity in Modern Apprenticeships.   

“There are no ‘quick-fix’ solutions to what are deeply embedded cultural and social attitudes.

“Stakeholders are also clear that no single organisation has all the answers.

“For those reasons, this will be continually reviewed and updated annually as we identify further new approaches through experience and partnership working.

“We want to ensure real change and deliver the very best outcomes for Scotland’s people, businesses and economy.”

Removing barriers

To mark the plan’s publication, Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment Annabelle Ewing MSP met young apprentices at a launch event at Investors in People in Edinburgh.

Ms Ewing, said: “Our Modern Apprenticeship programme has seen more than 100,000 people get an invaluable start to their career over the last four years and we want young women and men from all backgrounds to be able to seize these opportunities.

“When Developing the Young Workforce, our Youth Employment Strategy, was published almost a year ago, we made clear our commitment to address under-representation within the Modern Apprenticeship programme.

“Today we set out how that will be achieved in the Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships.

“We know that our industries are always looking for talented workers and this plan outlines how we intend to remove some of the barriers, real or perceived, that have traditionally prevented young people with disabilities, Black Minority Ethnic groups or those who have come from a care background, from participating in Modern Apprenticeships.

“The plan will also address gender imbalance within the MA programme, while embracing the wider goal of improving equality of access for all.

“We have listened to employers and our partners working with young people, to learn from their experience and offer practical steps towards creating more diverse workforces that are inclusive and supportive.”

Laura Peacock from Investors in People Scotland said; “We are proud to be able to show our support for this Plan, which we are confident will make a real difference to individuals working in Scotland.

“Modern Apprenticeships are a great route to work for young people.

“Equality for individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds, disabled people and for carers has always been very close to our heart at Investors in People, and indeed this is shown in the fact that it is embedded within both the new Investors in People and Investors in Young People frameworks.”

Read the full report

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