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The Importance of Black History Month to Apprentices

October is Black History Month and this year’s theme is ‘Time for Change: Action not Words’. As an arms’-length body developing apprenticeships and technical qualification for talented people around England, we want to make sure that we are supporting and providing opportunities to all. At IfATE, we have panels of employers from different industries and apprentices completing an array of apprenticeships, who advise on the development of our quality apprenticeships. A few apprentices on the panel have shared their experience and thoughts on the importance of Black History Month.

If you want to be part of these conversations, and have a positive impact on apprenticeships, consider joining the panel of apprentices – recruitment is open now.

Why is Black History Month important?

Saskia, Chair of the panel of apprentices, thinks that Black History Month

reduces the erasure of BAME influence and motivates people to do more and be more than they ever thought they could – whether that be within education, the workplace or in everyday life.

Tamzin sees this as a “month of reflection.” She said:

Black History Month is important because it draws to light the lived experiences that people like myself do not see in our day-to-day lives.

Napa expressed a similar sentiment:

It gives us an opportunity to reflect and educate ourselves on the growth and development of black people, despite the struggle and racism endured throughout history and within today’s society.

She added:

It’s important to remember the people who paved the way for us to be in this position to this present day and appreciate those who are still working hard to influence equity, diversity, and social inclusion.

Why is diversity and representation important in apprenticeships?

Saskia said:

The importance of representation goes deeper than just providing clear pathways for professional development and improvement within the workplace – it provides the youth with different ideas of what they can be and what they can do as well as giving a voice to those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds in making the workplace a safe and inclusive environment to foster better work relations.

Amy, who is on a solicitor apprenticeship, believes

representation is fundamental in allowing people to feel accepted. When representation is done well, it allows people to act and express themselves confidently.

When it comes to apprenticeships specifically, Amy said:

I think they should represent the society that we live and showcase people of all ages and backgrounds. Apprentices can offer different ways of thinking which is key to ensuring this route into a professional career continues to progress.

What changes would you like to see in the world?

Dilraj, whose apprenticeship is in sales, marketing and procurement, said:

We need to strive for equality and representation across all avenues, whether that be the workplace, school/college or social media, as diversity allows us to be better connected and have a better understanding of each other’s cultures. We also need to reflect and educate ourselves and peers to have a better understanding of our own privilege and what steps we can further take to bridge the gap to equality.

He added:

I hope that everyone uses this time to reach out one another and gain a better understanding of what they can do to make real everlasting, impactful change that will benefit society and all communities.

For Black History Month, Napa’s workplace allocated chat messages for the cause to post relevant information on her company-wide communications channel.  She said:

It's critical for the apprenticeship community to be as diverse as possible because we need to have a workforce that reflects the society we live in. It would be great if places took the same actions, big or small, to help create change.

Tamzin commented:

There is a phrase ‘think globally, act locally’, and I think of this when discussing diversity in apprenticeships – focusing locally, on improving diversity through all sections of the apprenticeship scheme (from students to staff) will improve diversity globally, in a positive feedback loop.

Next week our Black History Month blog will be what changes our staff and apprentice panel members have seen in their lifetimes.

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