Before 2012, fewer than 300 of Barclays’ employees were under 21. Employee turnover was at 70% in some entry-level roles and these positions lacked diversity. At the same time, UK unemployment rates for people from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds had risen by 49%. Barclays recognised that something had to change – both to broaden its own talent pool and its obligation to the communities it serves and works in.
In 2011 Barclays developed an early careers strategy focusing on those, not in education, employment or training (NEETs), and the Apprenticeship programme was launched in 2012 with Foundation Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships. Although initial results were positive, there was a need to expand further and do more to support people in the workplace. Therefore, Barclays launched the Traineeship programme, a free short course designed to give young people the advice, techniques, experience and opportunity they need to become work-ready. In 2014, Barclays built further on the programme by launching its Advanced Apprenticeship. This follows on from the Foundation Apprenticeship, supporting apprentices to build on their knowledge and experience and take steps towards becoming a qualified specialist.
In 2015, the eligibility criteria for Higher Apprenticeships (linked to degree-level education) and development programmes in new business areas was redefined in order to increase the diversity of opportunity in certain disciplines. To ensure that opportunities were open to everyone, particularly the most excluded social groups, Barclays spoke directly to disadvantaged communities including BAME groups. Community feedback was used to maximise outreach. Barclays has also built partnerships with schools, charities and other organisations to promote the apprenticeships through career talks and mentoring sessions, including Young Women’s Trust, Remploy and LNK (Lives Not Knives).
Alongside its BAME recruitment activity, Barclays also uses its employee diversity networks to engage with local ethnically diverse communities, particularly young people who may not see a career in banking as a natural recruitment opportunity. Recently Barclays ran a workshop to inspire 45 students from the Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (EBP) in one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse communities. The aim was to raise the aspirations of young people, develop their motivation and skills for work, and increase their ability to choose and achieve positive careers. In 2016, over 600 Barclays employees volunteered 2,500 work hours with Tower Hamlets EBP, supporting students on employability, enterprise and financial skills.
In the last four years Barclays has seen success in breaking down these barriers;
- Barclays has employed over 3,000 Apprentices, with 47% of those coming from a disadvantaged background and 43% from a BAME background
- 53% of Barclays’ new starters are aged between 16 and 18 years old
- Retention rates are now 93% for Foundation Apprenticeships
- Traineeships have engaged almost 2,500 people from a NEET background and 56% of those joining the programme are from BAME backgrounds
- In 2017 20% of Higher Apprentices will be from a BAME background.
Barclays was recently recognised at the Asian Apprenticeship Awards for its work on exposing myths around the value of ‘apprenticeships versus university’, a particular stigma for this community.
Barclays has now removed eligibility criteria for its Foundation Programme and will continue to develop its Traineeships, equipping everyone with opportunities for upskilling and employment. The organisation will also continue to explore avenues for disadvantaged groups, including older workers and those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, and encourage other employers to expand the reach of their apprenticeship programmes in view of the new apprenticeship levy.