Internships/apprenticeships: ‘Minorities, women and people from low-pay backgrounds left behind’

17 January 2017 Women, people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethic (BAME) backgrounds, and those from less wealthy families are being left behind by today's apprenticeship and internship systems.

17 Jan 2017| News

17 January 2017

Women, people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethic (BAME) backgrounds, and those from less wealthy families are being left behind by today’s apprenticeship and internship systems.

This is according to two newly released reports: Apprenticeships: an un-level playing field from the London Assembly; and The Class Ceiling from All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social mobility.

The London Assembly reported yesterday (16 January 2017) that BAME and female apprentices tend to receive low-level, low-pay apprentices and more than a quarter of all apprentices do not complete their training, with achievement rates falling at the highest pace for BAME candidates.

There were no women taking a higher-level apprenticeship in either construction of engineering in 2014, it noted.

Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: “Quality not quantity is needed when it comes to apprenticeships in London.

To deal with a worsening skills gap and the likely impact of Brexit, we must better train our young people, especially women and those from a Black Asian and Minority Ethnic background, so they are ready for jobs in London’s key sectors such as tech and construction.

The London Assembly Economy Committee wants to see the Mayor of London really get to grips with this in his skills strategy – for London to be a city for all Londoners, it’s essential we improve apprenticeships, so they are better quality, at higher levels and with improved success rates for all.”

In its report on the destructive nature of today’s internships, the APPG on social mobility warned that industry across the country are also losing out on talented because they cannot afford to work for free.

The group took evidence from professionals in areas such as law, finance, medicine, journalism, politics and the entertainment industry to understand why these sectors are still largely populated by people from wealthy backgrounds.

Indeed, the Sutton Trust’s Leading People 2016 report recently showed almost a third of all MPs and FTSE100 CEOs in 2015 were privately educated, with this proportion rising to over half of the top 100 news journalists, more than two-thirds of British Oscar winners, and nearly three-quarters of High Court and Appeals Court judges in 2015.

Chair of the APPG on social mobility and Labour MP Justin Madders said: “We know that social mobility at the top of UK society is shamefully low. Throughout this inquiry we have heard from profession after profession that significant barriers exist to young people from less advantaged.

“If the current government is serious about improving access to top jobs for those from less advantaged homes, they need to take a much more strategic approach. This means linking the work of schools, universities and employers to build a real business case and practical plan for improving social mobility.”

In November, a private members’ bill to ban unpaid internships was filibustered by Tory MPs.