Bristol showcases work to improve diversity in apprenticeships: Photo Apprentices with Marvin Rees.

22 Nov 2018

Bristol showcases work to improve diversity in apprenticeships

Skills Minister Anne Milton MP is visiting Bristol today to join Mayor Marvin Rees and representatives from four other cities delivering the government’s Apprenticeship Diversity Hub project.

The project is a pilot scheme designed to broaden the appeal of apprenticeships to more diverse audiences. It includes Bristol alongside Birmingham, Leicester, London and Manchester. Locally it is also supported by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

During her visit Anne will hear about each city’s progress. In Bristol much work has already been done through the Learning City Partnership and Bristol WORKS, an initiative set up to match schools and young people with employers and training to make sure all students can experience work. In the last school year almost 2,500 opportunities were created through the WORKS project. The council has also improved the diversity of apprenticeships working within the organisation, with BAME candidates, care leavers and disabled people making up a quarter of new recruits since April.

Mayor Rees said: “For businesses to be at the cutting edge of their industries they need a wide range of different perspectives, which is why it is so important to have a diverse workforce. This must start from the grass-roots up and apprenticeships are a key route in, so by getting a wide range of different people into these roles then ultimately the whole city could benefit. We’ve got some fantastic employers in Bristol and the surrounding areas already helping in the challenge to make Bristol a more equal place to live and work.”

“We’re looking at how to increase diversity from many different angles and exploring how we can really get the message across to different communities about the opportunities that apprenticeships can unlock. The event today is a chance for us to learn from the other cities involved in the hub project about their successes, challenges and how they’re overcoming barriers to success. As a Learning City we are always looking to create more opportunities for people to learn and these are exactly the types of projects we, and our partners, should be focused on.”

Part of the work taking place is also looking at ways to link employers with potential apprenticeships and employees online, including how to develop online portfolios matching skills with opportunities.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said: “The 5 cities project which we launched earlier this year is all about making sure apprenticeships work for everyone. It’s about increasing the diversity of apprentices around the country. It was fantastic to be in Bristol to hear from Mayor Rees and all those from Birmingham, Leicester, London and Manchester about the amazing progress they are making.

“Apprenticeships offer people the chance to earn while they learn, gain new skills and get on in a career. With options to train right up to degree level in a range of amazing jobs from town planners to aerospace engineers, there is something for everyone.

“I’m thrilled that Bristol and all the other cities are doing such fantastic work with local employers, schools, colleges and other partners. The energy and passion from the Bristol team is amazing. It’s through this work that whatever your age, whatever your background there will be an apprenticeship out there for you.”

Anyone can apply for an apprenticeship and they’re available across a wide range of different industries from law and finance to education, marketing or IT. In some sectors an apprenticeship can also earn you a qualification up to the equivalent of a Master’s degree.

As well as focusing on apprenticeships, work is also taking place across Bristol to improve the diversity of leaders in the city. The Stepping Up programme, supported by the City Office, is working to improve the representation of BAME employees in senior leadership roles across the region.

Job fairs hosted by Ways2Work also run throughout the year and include a range of apprenticeship on offer with employers. For more information about opportunities available visit:

Case study: Saida Bello is a Solicitor at Bristol City Council. She has recently taken part in the Stepping Up programme and is now beginning a Level 7 MBA in leadership and management as an apprentice.

Saida said: “I’ve been a housing solicitor for over 10 years, qualifying the traditional way at university and leaving with debts that took 10 years to clear.

“Last year I participated in the Stepping Up programme, which aims to increase the representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people, disabled people and women in senior leadership roles across Bristol. I knew I wanted to achieve some management qualifications and the programme enabled me to find out about apprenticeships.

“I’ve just started a Level 7 MBA in leadership and management as an apprentice. It’s the equivalent of a Masters Degree. It means I can continue my work as a solicitor with Bristol City Council, but also gain the additional skills, experience and qualifications I’m looking for. As apprenticeship programmes are funded, it means my tuition fees are covered and I still get paid in line with my skills and job role.  I would have jumped at this kind of opportunity when I was first a student all those years ago as not only can you get qualifications without the massive debt, but you can put the classroom theory into practice at work and continue your learning in a real life situation.”  

Main image Apprentices with Marvin Rees; l-r: Khius England – On Site Bristol, Sandica Moroianu – NBT, Brooklin Jones – BCC, Gillo Gbao – NBT, Emma Lashwood – On Site Bristol, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees.

Second image: Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton MP with Mayor Rees.