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Diversity Champions Network making a tangible impact

OPPORTUNITIES: Helen Grant, MP, with two apprentices

The Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network, which I am proud to chair, is an employer led, action-focussed group whose members share my belief that someone's future should not be determined by their past. We believe in the power of apprenticeships to change lives and are determined to ensure that they are inclusive, diverse and open to all people.

To us, ‘diversity’ is not a tick-box exercise, it is a broad concept and at the forefront of everything that we do. To members of the ADCN, diversity is about opening doors for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and providing them with an equal opportunity to succeed. It is about enabling people with learning difficulties and disabilities to bring their rich array of skills and experiences into the workforce and supporting them to achieve their full potential. It is about getting more women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics roles so we can live in a world where women can express their full talent. It is also about opening up pathways for disadvantaged people, paving the way for greater social mobility, and it is about breaking down barriers so that LGBT+ people are able to flourish in the workplace.

Diversity for us is ultimately about ensuring that, whoever you are and wherever you come from, you are able to access the life changing opportunities which an apprenticeship provides. Our 70 members spearhead new and exciting initiatives and lead the way in developing meaningful and diverse apprenticeship programmes.

Some examples include:
• Sunmark working with the Bangladeshi Catering Association to increase BAME apprenticeship representation in their 20,000+ restaurants.
• KPMG introducing anonymised CVs during recruitment, increasing the diversity of their apprentice intake.
• BT using situation strength-testing during recruitment which has led to an increase in BAME applicants to their programme. • Barclays offering their ‘Able to Enable’ interns access to a Higher Apprenticeship, providing opportunities for people with mental and physical health disabilities.

Whilst this is great work which is making a tangible impact, there is still a long way to go. This means that the ADCN must continue to grow, and develop new and exciting ways to reach out to a diverse range of apprenticeship candidates. We welcome those who want to help us make that difference too - so join us, talk about us, and support us. Help us grow even bigger so we, in turn, can help change lives.

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