National Apprenticeship Week: Co-op to improve opportunities for BAME candidates
By Sarah Wood
The Co-op is set to improve employment opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups, by channelling money from big businesses to smaller firms.
The cash will create apprenticeships for candidates from BAME communities and people from low socio-economic backgrounds, as reported by Retail Gazette.
The retailer is kicking things off with an initial £500,000 and is urging other businesses to step up to create a £15 million fund to invest in thousands of new apprenticeships.
Co-op said the fund has been designed for maximum reach and flexibility to support people who are most disadvantaged due to systemic prejudice or economic deprivation.
Businesses across England will be able to pledge unspent money from their Apprenticeship Levy to the scheme.
Businesses looking to recruit apprentices from under-represented groups can register for the scheme and be matched with companies with spare cash.
The scheme should be particularly attractive to smaller firms and organisations which typically find creating apprenticeships more difficult. Smaller companies will be matched with candidates who are a good fit with their diversity and inclusion goals and requirements.
The scheme is expected to start in April and is open to companies in any industry.
The Co-op is also working with the BITC Race Advisory Board to ensure BAME apprentices receive individual support, including mentoring, to give them the best chance of success.
The BITC said 33 per cent of Black employees feel their ethnicity is a barrier to their next career move, and the Co-op's scheme will be a real step forward in addressing inequalities. It called on business leaders to fund the initiative, to prove that they are serious about making changes for BAME young people.
The news follows the announcement earlier this week that Co-op is set to launch new apprenticeship programmes to support young people searching for an alternative route into employment.
The retailer has teamed up with analytics solutions company, IRI, to provide data science apprenticeship programmes in the UK.
The new course is aimed at apprentices with an interest in applying data science and computing to real-world problems.
The Co-op said as more businesses undergo digital transformation, interpreting and understanding data will become fundamental to their survival.
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