‘Employers must reach beyond young people on apprenticeships’

More work needs to be done to promote apprenticeships beyond young people, according to the Head of Apprenticeships at Barclays, Mike Thompson.

Thompson has written a blog post praising the recent ‘Get In, Go Far’ campaign aimed at raising the profile of apprenticeships but calling for greater effort to promote apprenticeships to two underserved groups in particular: older people, and those with disabilities.

“There needs to be greater education around the wider scope of programmes available and the fact that you don’t have to be a school leaver to take full advantage of them. I feel that the Government has missed a huge opportunity to widen the appeal and target a much broader demographic,” Thompson writes.

He goes on to detail Barclays’ efforts to expand the potential intake of people onto its apprenticeships schemes. “At Barclays, we have already adapted our programme to provide far greater access to jobs across our business for people with physical or mental health disabilities. Before we started our programme, the percentage of new recruits within Barclays with a declared disability was only 3 per cent.


‘10% of new recruits with a declared disability’

Barclays, he says, addressed this using the more supportive approach an apprenticeship enables. “For example, every candidate with a disability is matched with an existing Barclays colleague who has the same disability so they can share how the company supports them and what it’s like to work in Barclays. We now have over 10 per cent of our recruits with a declared disability and this is rising as we get better at building relationships with specialist recruitment organisations and promoting ourselves to this group – making people aware of the support that Barclays provides.”

As well as reaching out to the disabled, Thompson says the introduction of the Apprentice Levy offers employers an opportunity to engage older people. “In the UK today there are in excess of one million people over the age of 50 who are unemployed but who wish to be in employment. There are many reasons why people find themselves in this group, whether through forced redundancy or having to leave work to care for others.


‘Perfectly feasible to hire apprentices of any age’

“With the removal of the 16-24 age restrictions on funding following the recent apprenticeship reforms, it is perfectly feasible to hire apprentices of any age on to new national Apprenticeship Standards. Given the number of school leavers will be well below the number of new jobs predicted to be created in the UK, businesses will need to start to look more widely to find apprentices.”

Thompson, who in addition to his role at Barclays also sits on the Prime Ministers’ new Apprenticeship Delivery Board points out that the bank has started to focus on this particular talent pool, hiring over 60 people onto its “Bolder” (Barclays Older) apprenticeship scheme and into key parts of our business. “The skills and life experiences they have brought to the table have been incredible, and they are already adding huge value to our business”.