Today, we published a short guide on accessing apprenticeships in England for refugees and people in the asylum system. Apprenticeships are structured programmes that help people learn practical skills while earning a wage. They can provide a direct path to work and help people bridge the gap between education and the job market.
Although apprenticeships usually have a rule requiring applicants to have resided in the UK for at least three years, our guide highlights that there are exemptions for people with specific immigration statuses, such as those with refugee status or people who are in the UK under a Ukraine scheme.
We decided to highlight the eligibility criteria because earlier this year, through our collaboration with the Aspire team, we identified that many clients were being denied access to apprenticeships. Our team took it upon themselves to advocate for these clients and directly contacted apprenticeship providers.
Recent government guidelines clearly state that clients from a forced migrant background are exempt from the three-year residency rule.
To our surprise, some providers claimed that candidates with refugee status were not exempt from the three-year residency rule. This is despite recent government guidelines that clearly state that clients from a forced migrant background are indeed exempt from this rule.
We initiated communications with the local Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to update them on this matter. They confirmed that their internal guidelines did not contain this information and that, unfortunately, they were denying access to apprenticeships for forced migrants due to a misunderstanding of the government guidelines. With the cooperation of the Yorkshire Regional Manager, we engaged directly with the DWP and informed them of the guidelines.
After ongoing communication, DWP reviewed their guidelines, and most recently, they decided to make the necessary changes, marking a significant success. In June, the Employment and Education coordinator for East Yorkshire continued to advocate by contacting apprenticeship providers to raise awareness about these guidelines and encourage further staff training with this update. The coordinator had a successful meeting with various bodies including Programme Executive, CIPD Trust, and City & Guilds Foundation to share this information.
Moving forward, our work to raise awareness with other providers will continue, so we can ensure all refugees and people in the asylum system have a chance to access these important opportunities.