1. The Social Mobility Commission’s ‘Apprenticeships and social mobility: fulfilling potential’ report
A lot of people were (rightly) shocked by the Social Mobility Commission report last year that highlighted apprenticeships as “one of the few indisputably effective tools of social mobility currently available to the government”, but showed how they’re failing to deliver on that potential. Things need to change, and many apprenticeships professionals now see themselves as having an important role to play in driving that change.
2. Trying to do it all and/or not knowing where to start
Everyone we speak to can see that something needs to change. However, many employers have shared that they feel social mobility bring such a complex, sprawling and sensitive set of challenges, they need to develop the right in-house skills and expertise to tackle it properly. As Jodi Fair from the Solent Apprenticeship Hub told me,
“Our employers are conscious of wanting to ensure that their organisations are fair and equally accessible to all – however, they are worried about doing the wrong thing and so, in the past, the tendency has been to do nothing at all”.
The Genie Programme gives people a starting point – a practical, structured way into this agenda as it relates to their work. People we’ve spoken to love that the programme doesn’t try to fix the world, or even their whole organisation – instead it helps them find specific ways to build curiosity and confidence, and to make a direct difference as an apprenticeships/early careers professional.
3. The unique challenges and impact of the pandemic
Although many of the challenges addressed by the social mobility, diversity and inclusion agenda are long-standing, the past 12 months have been uniquely challenging with social and economic challenges that all the data shows will disproportionately impact the most deprived and marginalised individuals. Longstanding social and economic gaps widened, access gaps and other disparities magnified. Many apprenticeship employers want to do whatever they can to mitigate that impact and to offer opportunities to those who need them most.
4. Lack of confidence in handling sensitive issues
The last thing that keeps coming up in conversations with employers is a lack of confidence when addressing sensitive issues with confidence.
Education is the most important tool in learning to recognise and remove barriers for diverse and disadvantaged groups and that is why we are deslighted that you have joined us as part of the Genie Programme. By hearing from a wide range of people with first-hand ‘lived experience’ of the challenges, you will learn how to address them seriously, sincerely and with real sensitivity in their work.
Addressing this agenda isn’t always easy. If it was, we’d all just sign a petition or buy a campaign badge once a year. There wouldn’t be any need for The Genie Programme.
But something not being easy doesn’t mean that it has to be daunting. We hope you agree that The Genie Programme provides a structured route to open and honest engagement with challenging issues, to recognition of organisational gaps in knowledge, and to quantifiable, strategically motivated suggestions for how to improve attraction, recruitment and progression processes for diverse and disadvantaged talent.
Welcome to The Genie Programme.