Women and persons with disabilities are not the only vulnerable groups. Migrants, refugees, indigenous people, ethnic, racial or religious minority groups, early school leavers, the socially excluded, persons in the rural areas and those with a low education level are generally under-represented in Quality Apprenticeships. In the United Kingdom, in 2015/16, 10.5 per cent of apprentice starters were from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, which is substantially lower than the overall figure of 15.6 per cent for the BAME population aged 16 to 64 in England. The reasons for lower participation include negative views of apprenticeships amongst individuals, parents and communities, views on the ‘suitability’ of different occupations, a lack of good role models, and a lack of opportunities in areas with large BAME communities.1 In South Africa inequality also exists on the basis of race, gender and class (box 40).
Box 5: Unequal access to vulnerable groups- South Africa
A major limitation in the implementation of the learnership and apprenticeship systems is that they do not enable equal labour market access for all participants, particularly vulnerable constituencies and those who experience social inequality on the basis of race, gender and class. Learnership and apprenticeship opportunities have a limited geographical spread, concentrated in metropolitan areas in three more densely populated and affluent provinces. Almost 60 per cent are provided in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZuluNatal. There is very little provision of or access to programmes in the poorer provinces where they may be needed most, in order to contribute to regional, and particularly rural, economic development.
Those participating in high-level skills learnerships and those employed at registration are more likely to be white and male, and gender and racial differentiation between sectors still largely reflects traditional occupational patterns. A critical constraint is that positive employment outcomes are least likely for women; those with low socioeconomic status; those who are African; those with low educational levels; and those in low-status occupations and sectors.
Source: Kruss et al., 2014
Quality Apprenticeships should provide a safe and nurturing work environment without discrimination against anyone. Various studies have proved that a diverse workforce propels innovation and enhances profitability. It helps employers to have the best person for the job, and their workforce has a balance of different perspectives. In addition, it benefits business by reflecting a diverse customer base and the community that employers serve.2
There is a need to use innovative methods in pedagogy, develop flexibility in curricula, customise learning pathways and funding to attract vulnerable groups and meet their requirements in completing apprenticeships and gaining employment.
Many of the most successful companies have advanced diversity, strategies and are highly inclusive of minority groups (Partnership for a New American Economy, 2011). Approximately 90 per cent of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and almost 60 per cent of them extend benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees (DeCenzo et al., 2016, p.74).
TVET institutes and enterprises may also set diversity targets and actively increase the number of apprentices from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds and/or reserve positions. For instance, 50 per cent of the apprenticeship training seats in India are reserved for candidates belonging to vulnerable groups in order to bring the youth belonging to weaker sections of the society into the mainstream. They have reservation in jobs in the public sector. The quotas are set in accordance with their percentage of the population in the State.