The Coronavirus has impacted heavily on the work-based learning (WBL) sector with many of our learners furloughed or made redundant through industry closures. The pandemic has also shone a spotlight on the inequalities that exist in society with research showing that those living in disadvantaged communities or from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately affected by the virus. Welsh Government continue to liaise with the sector to provide safeguarding guidance to return safely to our respective workplace environments. We have also recognised the importance of embracing digital ways working to keep connected to our colleagues and learners.
It has been a busy period for NTfW’s Strategic Equality and Diversity Lead (SEDL) who has delivered a series of online training events to WBL providers and joined several online forums and advisory groups to ensure work-based learning remain connected to the issues that have arisen for diverse learners who are adversely affected by coronavirus and the lockdown. Most notably the SEDL was invited to join the First Minister’s Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Covid-19 Socio-Economic Sub-group which looked into the reasons why people from BAME backgrounds were disproportionately affected by the virus and played a key role in producing the Sub-group’s report recommendations which centered on around health, housing, education and employment inequalities.
Alongside this work, the SEDL is working collaboratively with the main WBL providers to produce our WBL Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and held discussions with external stakeholders to ensure there is a joined up approach and commitment to achieve our EDI outcomes.
As a sector, we can take pride in how we have continued to support our learners to complete their frameworks during the coronavirus pandemic and although there are challenging times ahead for work-based learning, our WBL EDI Strategy presents an opportunity to make firm progress towards achieving a more inclusive apprenticeship model in collaboration with our external stakeholders.