Diversity in Apprenticeships


Newcastle UXL believes that every individual should have an equal chance to make the most of their talents and no-one should have poorer life chances because of where, what or whom they were born.

We are working hard to ensure all young people in Newcastle have equal access to the full range of training opportunities regardless of, their physical/learning abilities, ethnic origin, gender, religion or sexual orientation. This is why this Newcastle UXL’s’ Diversity in Apprenticeships’ project came in to existence.

For us what matters is making a practical, tangible difference in Newcastle and to make change happen in the real world we needed to look hard at the facts.

In 2008/2009 in Newcastle only 2.9% of 16-18 year old apprentices were from a black or minority ethnic background despite representing 15% of school leavers in the city.

Similarly females are heavily under-represented in construction and engineering apprenticeships with only 0.8% of construction and 1.7% engineering apprenticeship places taken by females. Males also are under-represented in hairdressing and childcare sectors by only filling 1% and 1.7% of places respectively.

This is an issue about the prosperity of society as a whole: all the evidence suggests that skills and diversity in skills are only going to become more crucial to our regional and national economies in the future.

We want to match our aspirations towards equality with real achievements.

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Identifying Learners: We will work with schools, Connexions, e2e and pre-apprenticeship providers, Careers Advisors, parents and BME community organisations to identify and engage learners. Existing and new links with such agencies will be developed by Diversity In Apprenticeships (DIA) Mentors recruited from the target communities. They will proactively identify and engage learners via outreach, delivering targeted, community-based awareness raising and promotional events.

Attitudes & Perceptions: Young and successful current/former Apprentices from the target BME and under-represented gender groups will be recruited as volunteer Role Models. They will deliver outreach activities and promote Apprenticeships in schools which, along with learner and employer-focused case studies, will break down negative perceptions of Apprenticeships, offering first-hand evidence of the their quality and viability.

Mentoring: The research recommends that “pilots should focus on improving work-based support and mentoring schemes” (Executive Summary). 2 Mentors will provide ongoing tailored support to individuals throughout their Apprenticeships journey, helping to improve take-up and retention.

Demand: ‘A Day in the Life’ work shadowing tasters in sectors with under-representation and promotional events delivered by Mentors, Role Models and employers will raise the profile and image of Apprenticeships among the target groups. Improved support structures, such has DIA mentoring and group review sessions for particular BME/gender groups, will also enhance the appeal of Apprenticeships.

Greater promotion of Apprenticeships: Our communications strategy, exciting community-based events, Apprenticeships recruitment fairs and equality training for stakeholders will actively promote Apprenticeships.

Supply: Effective employer and provider engagement will be provided by the DIA Champion who will support a portfolio of employers, signed up to the Equality Compact, demonstrating the benefits of employing atypical Apprentices. He/She will undertake an equality impact and needs assessment, calculate employers’ projected return on investment in Apprenticeships, provide a vacancy/candidate matching service and offer equality training in order to stimulate demand.

Recruitment & Employment Practices: Champions will provide good practice toolkits and 1-to-1 support for employers in modifying their practices to overcome identified barriers.

Mainstreaming: Good practice will be cascaded down to schools, Careers Advisors, training providers etc. so the benefits of the project are sustained.


BME: Research carried out by Newcastle UXL showed that in 2008/2009 there were only 37 16-18 year olds from BME target groups engaged in apprenticeships in Newcastle, representing just 2.9% of the 1,289b participants aged 16-18 in apprenticeships. With 12.6% of the working age population of Newcastle belonging to BME groups with 15% of school leavers in the city belonging to BME communities, members of Newcastle’s BME communities are significantly underrepresented in apprenticeships.

The research also showed that underrepresentation is regionally specific with Newcastle having a relatively unique situation where 6 sectors were without any BME representation at all. We aim to work with young people, employers and providers across all sectors.

– The chart below shows the figures for Employment with training to NVQ level 2 or above.


As you can see the amount of BME young people taking up further training in Employment is a little over 1% compared with 98% White British. These figures support the information from Connexions and illustrates the vast gap in ethnicity of young people taking up further training opportunities. Is this because of a lack of opportunity? Is this because of a lack of awareness? Is this due to a lack of encouragement?

Gender: Females are heavily under-represented in construction and engineering apprenticeships in Newcastle. In 2008/09, only 0.8% of Construction apprenticeship places were filled by females and only 1.7% of Engineering apprenticeship filled by females. Similarly, males in Newcastle face under-representation in hairdressing and health and social care. In 2008/09 only 1.0% of apprentices in the Service Enterprise sector (including hairdressing) were male and only 1.4% of those in the childcare sector were male.


Young BME people who have tried Work Based Learning (WBL) report the feeling of isolation. This is supported by feedback from the young people and their advisors. Some young people have reported that they felt intimidated when attending training providers and consequently dropped out.

Within Newcastle training providers there is less than 3% of the workforce from the BME community and this is mainly in support positions. Newcastle UXL’s research shows that there are many complex reasons for these specific areas where diversity is lacking, we hope that through our unique project we can go some way to addressing the imbalance.


Newcastle UXL is dedicated to helping all young people maximise their true potential and raise their aspirations by supporting a wide and flexible range of training and engagement opportunities.

Newcastle UXL does not offer training directly but supports learners through the alliance of Training Providers it works with. This allows us to support young people in a more flexible and varied manner and allows us to offer independent guidance.

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Newcastle UXL
MCQ, Shields Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne

T: 0191 265 3003 ext 217
E: info@newcastleuxl.co.uk