Five ways to embrace new inclusive apprenticeship recruitment opportunities

More doors than ever have been opened by the latest ESFA apprenticeship funding rules, cementing opportunities for asylum seekers and opening up apprenticeships to qualifying prisoners, wishing to upskill.

It’s clear the rules offer a new level of inclusivity not seen before, widening the scope for apprenticeship recruitment.

Add to this the learning support guidance issued by the government recently, which outlines adjustments for those with a learning difficulty or disability, and these announcements could amount to a significant step forward for apprenticeship provision and assessment.

What makes a good apprenticeship?

Grow your own talent: a practical guide to apprenticeships

Can apprenticeships help future-proof your workforce?

But for these policies and guidance to translate into increased levels of diversity and inclusion (D&I), as an industry we must actively embrace these opportunities to see real change. Here are five ways that we can support these changes.


1. Invest time in understanding the rules

The first barrier to reaping the benefits of these new opportunities is a lack of awareness. The funding rules came with a bucketful of other changes including important discussion on the impact for training plans.

However, as HR professionals and assessors we must examine these changes through the lens of D&I. Through this we can kickstart discussion on how to facilitate real change and reach people who previously wouldn’t have considered an apprenticeship.


2. Spread the word

In the short term, we can get the word out within our networks speaking to colleagues and other industry leaders. In the longer term, we can consider widening out our networking opportunities to reach these new audiences and make them aware they could now be eligible for an apprenticeship. 

It’s also important to inform everyone in the organisation of the new rules and support them in considering a wider audience when they recruit, helping the trickledown effect where possible.


3. Reconsider risk adversities

Some of the groups now eligible for apprenticeships won’t have been targeted for recruitment before, and so understandably there could be some reluctance internally around changing recruitment strategies or apprenticeship delivery to suit this wider audience.

Our role as HR professionals and end-point assessment providers is to communicate the greater business benefits of more inclusive apprenticeships. For example, filling skills gaps with new talent, achieving a competitive edge over those who haven’t adjusted their strategies, and maximising return on investment from the apprenticeship levy.


4. Update marketing channels

Creating marketing content around these changes will no doubt raise awareness among the target groups as they search online or scroll through social media. Importantly, ensuring websites and marketing collateral reflect the updates will assist with creating greater awareness.


5. Keep asking for more

These changes aren’t the golden ticket for entirely inclusive apprenticeships. While by their very nature the courses open the door for training to those that may otherwise struggle to access it, more can still be done from the top down.

For example, if the government could incentivise employers to direct more of their levy funds to non-management positions, additional avenues of progression could open up for lower-level apprenticeships.

Embracing these new opportunities could lead to wider number of people, and importantly a wider variety of people accessing education and training. It’s key we keep talking and put thoughts into action to further improve the inclusivity of apprenticeships.


Rupert Crossland is director of audit and compliance at Professional Assessment