Skills minister John Hayes makes much of his pride in Squad UK, selected to take part in WorldSkills 2011 (November 19). But Squad UK neither reflects modern Britain nor the demographic profile of the UK's younger generations. While 22 per cent of learners in the skills sector are from black and minority ethnic communities, the figure drops to 6 per cent in apprenticeships.
The Network for Black Professionals was asked to support the UK Skills advisory group, set up after WorldSkills 2009 when then skills minister Kevin Brennan noted the lack of diversity in the UK squad. All engaged in that endeavour acknowledge that we need a minimum eight-year lead-in period to make inroads into this issue. But no progress will be made unless providers look at their recruitment practices for vocational programmes and exclusionary practices by employers are challenged.
Robin Landman OBE, Chief executive, Network for Black Professionals.