An apprenticeship is an ideal first step to a lucrative and rewarding career—no matter what your age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality and regardless of your socioeconomic background. It can identify and hone the skills of people who might, otherwise, slip through the cracks of the education system. According to the Social Mobility Commission, in fact, disadvantaged employees who complete an apprenticeship enjoy a 16% boost in their earnings compared to the 10% increase enjoyed by their more privileged peers.

Let’s take a look at how apprenticeships can shine the spotlight on underrepresented talent.


A way out of the poverty trap

A means to development for people from diverse communities

A viable alternative to university

A powerful tool in breaking the glass ceiling for women

A way out of the poverty trap

Completing an apprenticeship is an effective method of escaping the poverty cycle for ambitious people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The cycle of low income is what occurs when people without the resources for advancement (e.g., investment capital, education or connections) find themselves stuck in financially disabling situations. Apprenticeships offer upward social mobility—in some cases, giving people greater financial rewards than if they’d gone to university to study full-time.

By earning as they learn, apprentices avoid the financial trap of student debt and are able to begin investing in their futures from a young age. For mature candidates, an apprenticeship can enable a career change from an unskilled to a skilled profession that brings with it increased rewards and benefits.

The ultimate result of all this is improved socioeconomic status and all the benefits it brings—such as buying power, freedom from debt and a sense of personal autonomy. It is also suggested that improved socioeconomic status even impacts on people’s physical and mental health and can, in fact, increase their lifespan.

A means to development for people from diverse communities

Apprenticeships have also been shown to increase inclusion of people from diverse communities.

In a 2021 BTEG survey of Ethnic Minority Young People, 75% of those polled considered an apprenticeship as a viable path to a rewarding career. So it’s unsurprising that representation of Asian, Mixed, Black and Other ethnic groups in apprenticeships has grown over the past decade.

Meanwhile, the support of Unionlearn’s LGBT inclusive apprenticeships guide for employers has been designed to help more LGBTQ+ people successfully complete apprenticeships while companies like Nestlé (who have partnered with Stonewall) advocate for civil rights and workplace protections for gay, bisexual, trans and non-binary people.

It’s also notable that there’s a growing number of differently abled people undertaking apprenticeships, following the Government’s 2017 ‘Improving Lives’ initiative and the commitment of companies like Nestlé to The Valuable 500, which puts disability inclusion on its leadership agenda.

A viable alternative to university

Studying for an apprenticeship can give people who didn’t study at a prestigious university the opportunity to aim for many of the same career goals as those who did. In fact, the range of apprenticeships on offer today is as broad (if not broader) than the range of subjects it’s possible to study at degree level.

Today, many businesses are committed to a social equity agenda—Nestlé, for instance is a member of the Social Mobility Business Compact. This means such companies are actively diversifying their employee intake and increasing pathways to leadership for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Offering a robust apprenticeship portfolio is one way of achieving this.

As Prospects suggests, it is a route to employment that’s very much valued by employers. However, because it’s also an opportunity to study without accruing student debt, it’s a route that’s much more appealing to those looking to improve and secure their economic position.

A powerful tool in breaking the glass ceiling for women

Apprenticeships have also helped to open up leadership pathways for women. According to Statista, there have been more women than men starting out on apprenticeships over the last 10 years, while well-known providers of apprenticeships are actively addressing female leadership through initiatives like Nestlé Gender Balance Acceleration Plan. The UK Government also puts getting women into apprenticeships high on its education agenda.

The House of Commons reports that, whilst there are more women entering apprenticeships than men, the range of career pathways they choose tends to be smaller. This is arguably due to the systemically embedded cultural bias of certain workplace sectors. However, companies like Nestlé are actively empowering women across multiple apprenticeship pathways, driving female leadership potential from multiple angles.

Nestlé Chartered Management Degree Apprentice Emily Rowlands says that, “I believe now is a great time for women to work in business. Female CEOs and senior leaders are constantly on the rise and opportunities for women are ever-growing.” Meanwhile, Level 5 HR Apprentice Abbie Scargill suggests that, “Women have a voice now and businesses are listening. Here in HR at Nestlé, we are creating policies to support more women, more equality and—more powerful than that even—greater inclusivity.”

To find out more about studying for an apprenticeship at Nestlé Academy, see our dedicated page.

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