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Ethnic trade route

A college is taking employers to Pakistan to encourage them to take on more ethnic minority apprentices.

City College Birmingham launched the project after concern at low numbers of minority ethnic learners taking up apprenticeships in certain trades.

The college has links with Jamaica and Pakistan - the countries of heritage of Birmingham's largest communities.

In a recent inspection, Ofsted described City College's performance in equal opportunities, diversity and inclusion as "outstanding". The college has growing numbers of ethnic minority 16 to 18-year-olds on full-time foundation level motor vehicle courses, but few are taking the work-based learning route. Eighty three per cent of motor vehicle apprentices attending through private training providers are white, as are 96 per cent of apprentice electricians.

"The profile of apprenticeships was shocking," said vice-principal Sue Knottenbelt. "Those industries are predominantly white in a city that's not predominantly white. We are now working with employers to open up opportunities for our students to access apprenticeships."

City College began its international links, including sending staff overseas, in the late 1980s in response to demand for courses from visiting relatives of its ethnic minority learners, bringing a big growth in overseas students. The college has built partnerships in the United States, Europe, Gambia and South Africa and is fostering links with India.

"Our activity is having a huge impact on our ability to respond to our communities," says Ms Knottenbelt. "We have found a powerful tool for our organisation and staff development."

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