More support to help employers take on apprentices from diverse backgrounds has been pledged as part of a national campaign. Scottish Apprenticeship Week is the nationwide campaign aimed at encouraging more employers to take on apprentices.

However, it’s recognised that businesses are missing out by not employing apprentices from diverse backgrounds. Minister for Employability and Skills, Jamie Hepburn, said: “Apprenticeships benefit individuals, businesses and the economy and the Scottish Government is funding more apprenticeships than ever before.

“We don’t want background to be perceived as a barrier to being employed as an apprentice. Some employers are missing out by not tapping into as wide a talent pool as possible. As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week more support is being offered to businesses to improve their recruitment and retention of apprentices from diverse backgrounds. The week also shows all young people that being employed as an apprentice can be the cornerstone of a fantastic career.”

SDS is launching a range of digital guides designed to support employers to attract and recruit apprentices from a range of backgrounds.

The Employer’s Guides to Inclusive Recruitment were developed through the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB), the employer-led body which gives a strong industry voice to the development of work-based learning in Scotland.

The work supports the Equality Action Plan for Apprenticeships, a five-year strategy developed by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and partners to improve diversity in apprenticeships.

Individuals from minority ethnic groups, disabled people, and those with care experience are under-represented when it comes to apprenticeship employment. Women in sectors such as construction and men in childcare are also under-represented.

SDS director of National Training Programmes, Katie Hutton, said that changing perceptions with employers and potential apprentices remains a focus. She said: “The apprenticeship equality guides are designed with employers, for employers and include simple, practical steps they can take to recruit a more diverse workforce. Having a more diverse workforce can lead to increased productivity, creativity and profitability. Being more inclusive also builds your reputation, and attracts new staff and customers. Diverse organisations are also better able to adapt to changes and are more innovative. Today’s apprenticeships offer people the chance to work, learn and earn with some fantastic employers. Campaigns such as Scottish Apprenticeship Week help to show employers and individuals the benefits work-based learning can bring. With support from SDS and new types of apprenticeships available this year, there’s never been a better time to get involved in work-based learning.”

Organised by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the campaign theme for 2018 is ‘Apprenticeships are the Business’.