Breaking down the barriers to apprenticeships

A new report published today has found that too many people from disadvantaged backgrounds are still facing barriers that are preventing them from doing an apprenticeship. Here at the Growth Company, we’re proud to engage with some of the hardest-to-reach young people from Greater Manchester and beyond to help them find the right apprenticeship and boost their career prospects.

As an organisation that prides itself on its inclusive growth values, we believe everyone – no matter what their background – should have a chance to learn and prosper. In this day and age, why should a person’s financial and social circumstances determine their chances of gaining important skills and experience which ultimately lead to a better chance of finding work?

One of the issues highlighted in the report is the cost of travel for apprentices, and we all know that commuting can be very costly. To help out our learners who train at our state-of-the-art SkillCentre, we provide a free mini bus with pick-up points at various locations - so they don’t have to fork out for public transport.

We also welcomed the recent news from TfGM, who announced that their ‘Access to Apprentices’ travel offer had been extended – meaning that learners can now get 4 months’ of free travel rather than just 28 days.

But it’s not just financial struggles that hold young people and their families back when it comes to doing an apprenticeship. Personal issues can also be one of the biggest barriers – whether it’s mental health problems, lack of confidence or even poor physical health.

What sets our offer apart is our ability to engage effectively with some of the most disadvantaged individuals. This year, 86% of our young learners were registered as having one or more social or personal development needs - yet we have achieved some of the highest progression rates thanks to the targeted work we do across our training centres.

Our pastoral approach means we can sign-post young people to programmes and services where they will be able to get tailored support for any problems they’re going through, and help them to overcome anything that’s preventing them from starting an apprenticeship.

Our offer is designed to give everyone a chance. Even if someone is not yet ready for work, our trained Advice and Guidance workers will help them to identify the best way to gain the skills, knowledge and experience required to undertake an apprenticeship. This includes help with Maths and English, employability skills and an introduction to occupationally specific skills where appropriate. We have a strong track record in progressing those furthest from the labour market into jobs with formal training.

Apprenticeships play a vital part in achieving social justice. They’re a fantastic way for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain real work experience, a salary and still have the chance to study for a degree if they choose to. The more we can do to engage young people from less fortunate backgrounds and support them in overcoming the barriers they’re facing, the more we can make a difference to their future through apprenticeships.