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Think diversity when taking on apprentices, DTL urges

Think diversity when taking on apprentices, DTL urges

28 March 2019

Employers are being urged to see apprenticeship programmes as an opportunity to make their workforces more diverse.

Develop Training Ltd (DTL), a leading apprenticeship provider, has published a guide encouraging firms to adopt apprentice recruitment strategies that will lead to more diverse workplaces.

The document says that when employers are offering apprenticeships to new or existing employees, they should consider whether or not the opportunities are being offered fairly. They should also ask themselves if the recruitment policy is likely to support the development of a diverse workforce.

An opportunity to tackle imbalance in the workforce

A spokesperson for DTL’s Safeguarding Team said: “Diversity is an important part of the apprenticeship programmes that we run for major utility companies. We work hard to ensure our programmes are accessible to people from diverse backgrounds. With apprenticeships higher on the agenda than they have been for years, employers should look at them as an opportunity to tackle imbalance in the workforce and to promote diversity.”

The training company offers to work with employers to review recruitment processes, looking at factors such as how and where job advertisements are placed, the current workforce demographic and methods of initial assessment. DTL will then help businesses to find opportunities for reasonable adjustment in their recruitment processes so that they contribute to a more diverse workforce.

Up-to-date statistics about diversity

An important starting point for employers is to maintain up-to-date statistics about diversity so that they can identify not only which groups might be under-represented but which are underperforming.

The guide says employers should ask themselves: “Are there groups in our industry or workforce that are under-achieving? Do statistics indicate that different groups achieve jobs, qualifications or promotion at different rates?”

Are employees getting the right kind of support?

It recommends that rates of achievement should reflect the diverse nature of a business, and if they do not, then managers should check that employees are getting the right kind of support. They should also try to identify if processes or policies create disadvantage for any group.

DTL recommends a series of actions that firms can employ to diversify the talent pool.

  • State clearly that you welcome diverse applicants.
  • Advertise opportunities in areas likely to widen engagement.
  • Run focus groups or outreach programmes in under-represented communities.
  • Work with charities to understand the needs of different groups, for example people with disabilities
  • Support pre-employment programmes.
  • Sponsor and support young people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Use images of workforce diversity.
  • Promote positive role models to encourage participation.
  • Review policies and procedures to eliminate any unconscious bias.

Avoid straying into positive discrimination

DTL warns employers who are working towards more diversity to avoid straying into positive discrimination - selecting a candidate solely based on a certain characteristic – which can be illegal. “Positive action is about widening the pool from which successful candidates are eventually drawn on their merits,” the guide says.

Reasonable adjustments

The DTL team also lists reasonable adjustments that can be made if a person with a disability faces a barrier to employment.

  • Structural or physical changes to premises.
  • Providing mechanical aids for lifting or manual handling tasks.
  • Providing accessible parking.
  • Providing breaks to manage health conditions.
  • Providing relevant equipment such as large screens or access software.
  • Providing mentors or support workers.
  • Providing awareness training for colleagues to help them support others.
  • Relocating a workstation to an accessible area.

Click here to download the full guide

© Develop 2019