9 in 10 employers plan to maintain or increase the number of apprentices they take on in the next 12 months.

A survey of more than 600 employers in England also found  68 percent of organisations that employed apprentices felt that they make a ‘big difference in supporting people from lower socio-economic groups’ at work.

The report, published by The Open University and The 5% Club, which is a skills campaigners, shows that employers recognise the value apprenticeships bring in terms of diversity.  

Poorer backgrounds left out

However according to the polling, only a third (31%) of employers were planning on recruiting apprentices from lower socio-economic groups. 

34 percent said they planned to hire people without degrees or with lower qualifications while only 30 percent plan to recruit more apprentices from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. 

A similar pattern was found in the survey around plans to recruit apprentices with disabilities, from care backgrounds and ex-offenders. 

Mark Cameron, CEO at The 5% Club highlights: “The 5% Club exists to promote positive employer action for increased, inclusive and accessible workplace learning for all, and we are delighted to partner up with The Open University to explore the insights and proposed employers’ next steps arising from this survey.”

Those without degrees do well on apprenticeships

Meanwhile, 75 percent of employers reported that apprenticeships are important to help people without degrees or with low prior attainment.  And, almost half (46%) said that apprenticeships are important to support more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds into the workforce or to progress their careers. 

Director of the Business Development Unit at The Open University, Viren Patel, said:  

“Our survey shows that employers are hugely positive about the diversity and inclusion benefits that apprenticeships bring to organisations”

But, Mr Patel said the survey showed that not all employers have active plans to recruit from underrepresented groups in the workforce in 2022. 

He said: “Apprenticeships present a real opportunity for employers to look for hidden talent both inside and outside their organisation and provide the flexibility to unlock future talent.” 

Mr Cameron added that The 5% Club and Open University would have a roundtable to look into how to create genuine inclusion in recruiting practice. 

He said: “Improving access to training and employment opportunities for underrepresented groups is fundamental to addressing our national skills shortfalls, as well as reducing the high-levels of inequality in our society.”