Skills for Care

How this training provider is helping to support apprenticeships for a diverse workforce

04 Aug 2022

5 min read

Skills for Care

Culture and diversity

Workforce development


Training provider Access Skills has received award nominations over the past two years for their support for apprentices from diverse backgrounds. They explain their approach.

Valuing equality, diversity, and inclusion

For Access Skills, their approach to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) begins at home with this being a fundamental value of their own organisation and something they look for when recruiting staff. Taking a values-based approach to recruitment, the organisation ensures that EDI is something all their staff value as much as they do.

Their approach to EDI encompasses their four key values which are:

  • do what you say
  • make it better
  • help the team succeed
  • do the right thing.

They say that these simple messages ensure that their staff approach their work in a way that’s ethical, supportive, and provides a high-quality service for their clients.


Supporting diversity in social care

Access Skills provide off-the-job training for people completing a social care apprenticeship, working with employers to provide this vital element of the apprenticeship programme.

In the last 12 months, 47% of the apprentices enrolled onto training with Access Skills have been from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. They have seen a high completion rate among these apprentices with 92% having remained on the programme.

This is a consistent trend for Access Skills, as over the past three years they have seen an achievement rate of nearly 75% for their apprentices from diverse backgrounds.

This is just one reason that the training provider was shortlisted at the BAME Apprenticeship Awards for ‘Training provider of the year’ in 2021 and 2022.One of the apprentices completing their training with Access Skills won the ‘’Health, medical and social care employee of the year’ award.

Access Skills feel that this demonstrates that their engagement with employers, their knowledge, their delivery of training, and their learner-centred approach all have a positive impact in supporting apprentices to achieve their goals.


How Access Skills works with apprentices and employers

The first point of learner/employer contact with Access Skills comes via their information advice and guidance team (IAG). Access Skills highlight that this is a diverse team, with more than 80% of the team being from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds.

This means that the team is attuned to the differing needs of learners from diverse backgrounds – whether that is culturally, academically, or in terms of their first language.

This team are trained to be well-placed in providing unique and individual advice to apprentices, ensuring they’re able to find the right course, set at the right level and pace to meet their needs.

The learner support requirements identified by the IAG team are explored further at induction by conducting a confidential assessment with each learner to identify any additional learning needs which can be supported through reasonable adjustments.

The team also encourage apprentices to share any other issues that may impact on their learning such as overcrowded housing or mental wellbeing issues.

In these cases, support is often offered in conjunction with the employer, for example, using the company laptop and providing a quiet space to complete assignments.

Access Skills’ aim is to develop each learner, with an individually focused approach and bespoke provision.

This holistic approach to the learner considers external factors, rather than just focusing entirely on learning outcomes. Having a diverse workforce of their own makes it easier for them to understand and support issues related to people with specific backgrounds.


Award-winning diversity

Access Skills was shortlisted for the ‘Training provider of the year’ award at the BAME Apprenticeship Awards in 2021 and 2022, and two companies who the training provider works with were also shortlisted in the ‘Small/medium employer of the year’ category.

The employer who nominated Access Skills said:

BAME learners have found the additional support provided where English is a second language to be supportive. The use of professional discussions and webinars, where we can interact with others has made us feel included. Sharing ideas and experiences across cultures has given everyone involved insight into equality and diversity.

We can call in and speak to the team, getting support from assessors who are in some cases from a BAME background themselves. This has been more valuable during the current pandemic with the community we care for in need of increased support. Access Skills adapted their delivery model to help us while working from home, supporting our families and community.

We use social media a lot and Access Skills are up-to-date with information that’s relevant and inclusive of the BAME community. Sharing topical subjects that we can comment on, learn from, and above all feel included in. One recent example being the impact of covid on the BAME community and how to encourage our community to take up the vaccine.

This starts with making us feel we are important and taking time to explain the programme. Often being part of the BAME community we are made to feel rejected just for who we are. Access Skills has a zero-tolerance policy to ensure this doesn’t happen. We felt valued and welcome from the start. Access Skills is aware of the recruitment issues faced by the care sector and the importance that individuals from the BAME community have in filling managerial posts in the future.

Access Skills says:

With the urgent recruitment needs of the sector, enabling entry into the sector and empowering staff from all backgrounds with a clear development and career pathway is now more important than ever.

Find more information about supporting workforce development and recruitment with our #BuildingYourWorkforce spotlight.

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