On the 28th of September Skills Beyond School attended a special Inclusion in Apprenticeships Conference hosted by The BAME Apprentice Network to mark the National Inclusion Week 2021 and celebrate inclusion in all its forms.
The conference began with a panel discussion on how the pandemic affected apprenticeships and increased disparities that were already there, leaving people of BAME backgrounds disproportionately disadvantaged. Emphasis was put on the fact that we now must encourage talent to re-enter these sectors, and challenge that prejudice in order to see them as equal. It’s about aspiration, ambition, creating opportunity and the importance of developing empathy in culture. However, in order to attract BAME talent there must be some within the organisation already, which is why inclusivity should exist in recruitment. Representation should be made part of the success matrix because an organisation must be representative of those it serves. This also goes for staff members who are LGBTQIA+. It is important to include the use of pronouns and always ask yourself questions like: have we encouraged LGBTQIA+ student support network? Are they going to be protected (down to the level of banter)? What mental health support is available to the team? And are we aware that underperformance might be related to these issues?
Neuro inclusion was a popular topic of conversation during the conference. Dr. Louise Karwowski defined neuro diversity as an inclusive term that acknowledges that everybody’s mind is different. Embracing neurodiversity in education is about acknowledging these differences, adapting to them and making sure that thinking differently does not put that learner at a disadvantage. Different learning needs still come with a lot of stigma attached no matter how motivated or skilled the learners are. Hence it is our moral obligation as part of a civilized society to reduce these types of indirect punishments and eliminate the one size fits all approach. The education environment should be made more flexible and work with people’s differences by having robust data driven support in place to help tutors and staff understand their learners and get better at identifying those who needmore support through a conversation or cognitive assessment. We should start seeing it more as a benefit rather than a disadvantage and rely on their strengths rather than focusing on the difficulties they may have, because it’s good to have a team who all think differently and approach problems from different angles.
Cultural intelligence is also a key factor inhelping tackle further bias in recruitment and promoting workforce diversity. People can feel when there’s a lack of cultural intelligence as others become uncomfortable or unable to connect with them because of their background. Therefore, listening and learning is a great way to help employees relate to a broad range of people with empathy, sensitivity and confidence. After all, research consistently demonstrates that diverse teams with high CQ outperform homogeneous teams in every area, including innovation, decision-making, building trust, and leadership effectiveness.
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