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Closer collaboration and focused investment has been the key to supporting diversity across apprenticeships, according to a new report.

The final progress report in a five-year Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan outlines achievements and where further progress can take place.

Investment and collaboration

The report looks across the work within apprenticeships carried out by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in partnership with others to attract and support individuals from all backgrounds into work-based learning and to address occupational segregation.

Over this period, SDS has invested more resources in its commitment to equality of opportunity, including the introduction of an Equality team.

Collaboration with other organisations working in this area has been crucial in enabling SDS to better understand the challenges of those it aims to support.

In comparison to 2015, there has been an increase in uptake of apprenticeships by people from a black or minority ethnic SDS community, care experienced and disabled people.

“Whilst SDS does not have all the means of achieving change, it is important that we stretch every lever that we have – and work with others to influence where they have the responsibility – to make a real difference."

Katie Hutton, SDS Director of National Training Programmes

Collective effort

Commenting in the publication, Director of National Training Programmes, Katie Hutton said: “Whilst this is a report at the end of the five-year plan, it feels like just the beginning of the story. There is so much more to do. Some of the barriers are long-standing, cultural norms that will take collective will –- and effort - across stakeholders and customers to change.

“Whilst SDS does not have all the means of achieving change, it is important that we stretch every lever that we have – and work with others to influence where they have the responsibility – to make a real difference.

“Our team has made progress over the last few years and I would like to thank the many stakeholders and partners who have helped us along the way. Your support, insight, connections, and challenge have been invaluable.”

Holistic approach

Moving forward, SDS will use achievements and learnings from the last five years to support the achievement of new equality outcomes across SDS service provision, and for SDS as an employer, as part of its 2021-2025 Equality & Diversity Mainstreaming Outcomes.

SDS work will encourage a more holistic approach to inclusive recruitment, to recognise the importance and value of diversity and inclusion in developing a successful workforce.

SDS Chair Frank Mitchell said: “More than ever, employers need a diverse workforce to enable them and the economy to recover, sustain and thrive.

“Our partnership working has also focused on industry by gaining the support of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB), employer organisations, sector bodies and learning providers to look at the needs of businesses and diverse individuals to help them to be more inclusive in apprenticeship recruitment.”

“Today, it is far easier for employers to access the right information to make informed, inclusive decisions.”

Steven grier, Chair of SAAB Employer Equalities Group

Employer voice

SAAB and employers will be at the heart of apprenticeship development, to ensure equity of opportunity is embedded in the work-based learning system.

Steven Grier, Country Regional Manager for Scotland & LRG North at Microsoft and Chair of SAAB Employer Equalities Group said: “There is now an overwhelming body of evidence to support the fact that having a diverse and inclusive workforce is more than “just being the right thing to do” and is, in fact, a huge differentiator for the wellbeing of employees and contributes massively to a more profitable and successful company. Those successful outcomes are more quickly achieved by starting early on in a career journey and embedding equality into apprenticeships recruitment.

“Today, it is far easier for employers to access the right information to make informed, inclusive decisions.”

Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Jamie Hepburn said: “The Scottish Government is maintaining a focus on Fair Work and equity of opportunity.
“Fair Work can improve organisational reputation and recruitment, reduce staff turnover, and lead to diverse workplaces with a richness of talent and a diversity of ideas.

“SDS and others continue to work together to demonstrate to employers the value that a diverse workforce through apprenticeships brings to businesses.

“We have to work together to ensure everyone from all backgrounds and abilities can contribute to securing Scotland’s future.”

Read the report

The Apprenticeships Equality Action Plan progress report can be accessed on the Publications area of the SDS website.

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