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SDS has published the annual report of its Apprenticeships Equality Action Plan.

First produced in 2015, the SDS Apprenticeships Equality Action Plan (EAP) sets out the approach by SDS to working with partners to increase the diversity of apprenticeship uptake. 

Work has focused on the four priority groups identified by the Scottish Government and Developing Young Workforce: those from Black and Minority Ethnic communities; people with disabilities and additional needs; those who are care experienced; and gender.

National and grass-roots partnerships

Published annually, the report updates on the work SDS has undertaken in partnership with others in the year up to March 2020, to help individuals access apprenticeships and employers develop inclusive approaches to recruitment and sustainable growth. 

The 2019-2020 report records progress in participation in apprenticeships across all those from all under-represented groups. 

Some activity has been at grass-roots level, working with regional organisations to support local skills needs whilst national work has included Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the creation of a Gender Commission to support apprenticeships and the publication of a new Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) for Work-based Learning.

Support within COVID-19 response

The EAP is a five year plan and the effects of COVID-19 have posed further challenges and shaped the work being undertaken in its final year by SDS.

Additional support for priority groups has been included within the response set out by SDS to support individuals in the economic downturn due to COVID-19.

The new Pathway Apprenticeships will have an extended duration from 26 weeks to up to 52 weeks for care experienced or disabled participants where this is required and SDS has specifically welcomed bids for delivery from organisations targeting under-represented groups.

Delivering good quality work-based learning opportunities that are accessible and work for people of all backgrounds and circumstances is a key part of our commitment through the Young Person’s Guarantee.

Skills Minister, Jamie Hepburn MSP

Widening access and providing pathways

SDS Chair Frank Mitchell wrote: “Looking to the future, the long-term impact on society and the economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood. While we continue to work together to support economic recovery, we must not lose sight of the challenges faced and the progress made before the pandemic.

 “SDS is committed in its work to support those marginalised in society through the economic downturn and Labour Market Intelligence insights show that young people and those already facing barriers to the workplace are disproportionately affected.

“We remain committed to ensuring that individuals, particularly those most likely to achieve poor learning and employment outcomes, have access to a range of options and pathways which allow them to effectively prepare for, enter and progress in the world of work.

“As we move towards economic recovery, reskilling, retraining and lifelong learning through work-based learning and apprenticeships will have a crucial role to play. SDS will continue to support businesses – regardless of size, sector or region - by encouraging employers to value and develop a diverse talent pool with the right skills for their business.

“It is essential that we continue to prioritise equality in our response, working closely with partner organisations to ensure a strong, resilient and inclusive economy.”

Support through Young Person's Guarantee

Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Apprenticeships are a core part of our skills system and will play a key role in our economic recovery from COVID-19. They have the power to spark someone’s career journey, or revitalise and renew their professional development and we must ensure that they continue to be attractive and accessible for all in our society. 

“While we continue to see positive change as a result of the Apprenticeships Equality Action Plan, I recognise that determined and persistent effort is required from all partners across the education and skills pipeline to challenge stereotypes and make sure people are aware of the many career options open to them.

“Delivering good quality work-based learning opportunities that are accessible and work for people of all backgrounds and circumstances is a key part of our commitment through the Young Person’s Guarantee. We and our partners will continue to work with equalities groups and young people to achieve this and I welcome the additional measures to support people from underrepresented groups set out by SDS.”

More information

The Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan annual report is available to download through the publications area of the SDS website.

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