Westminster Employment Forum

Apprenticeships in England - growing participation and improving diversity

December 2019

This timely seminar will discuss how to increase participation in Apprenticeships and improve diversity.

The context and focus for discussion

The conference takes place at a crucial time, with policy on apprenticeships being raised in the general election campaign, and:

  • As concern mounts regarding Apprenticeship starts in light of government confirmation that the target of 3m starts will not be achieved on time;
  • With reform of the Apprenticeship levy being called for by industry groups; and
  • Amid questions about how industry, training providers, government and other stakeholders can realise the aim to improve uptake amongst under-represented and disadvantaged groups - and the government targeting an increase of 20% BAME starts by 2020.

The agenda will bring out latest thinking on:

  • Addressing the decrease in Apprenticeship starts since the Apprenticeship programme reforms, including from under-represented groups and for lower level apprenticeships;
  • Encouraging employers to use available funds and attract enough potential recruits to start an Apprenticeship; and
  • Strategies for government, the FE sector and employers to drive growth in apprenticeship take-up.

Keynote contributions and case studies

There will be keynote contributions from Kathryn Porter, Vice-Chair, Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network and Nic Hutchins, Principal Skills Manager, Apprenticeships, Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Further contributors and their expected focus include:

  • Rebecca Davies, Senior Economic Development Officer, TDA and Sarah McMillan, Corporate Lead, Economic Strategy & Skills, South Tyneside Council on their work on the ‘Opportunities through Apprenticeships’ programme, in the pilots in Torbay and South Tyneside respectively, which aims to raise awareness and support for Apprenticeships and remove barriers to take-up;
  • Dominique Unsworth, SME Apprenticeship Ambassador and Chief Executive Officer, Resource Productions, on her role as an SME Apprenticeship Ambassador, mentoring smaller enterprises on how to raise the profile and get the most out of their Apprenticeship programmes; and
  • Simon Broad, Head of Operations, New Talent, BBC, on the role of Apprenticeships in recruiting for and diversifying the creative sector.

The agenda

  • Driving growth in the Apprenticeship programme;
  • Assessing progress and setting direction for the ‘5 Cities Project’;
  • Apprenticeship starts - ensuring better regional coverage, tackling STEAM skills gaps and utilising the Apprenticeship levy effectively;
  • Improving participation amongst under-represented and disadvantaged groups including low skilled workers; and
  • The ‘Opportunities through Apprenticeships’ project - lessons from the pilots.

Engagement with policy officials at this conference

This Westminster Employment Forum conference has attracted strong interest from policymakers. It will be an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with officials who have reserved places representing: BEIS; Cabinet Office; Competition and Markets Authority; DCMS; Department for Education; DIT; DfT; DWP; Food Standards Agency; HM Treasury; Home Office; MoD; MoJ and the National Crime Agency.

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Employment Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates