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Katie Kelleher and apprentice panel at launch of Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy 3 years of progress report

By Jo Field

Transport sector making good progress on diversity

The Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy - three years of progress report shows the road and rail sector is making good progress in improving workforce diversity.

Launching the report, Mike Brown MVO, Commissioner, Transport for London and Chair of the Strategic Apprenticeship Taskforce (STAT) said the industry had exceeded its target for BAME representation in apprenticeships (21.8 per cent up from 14 per cent in 2016/17). He added the industry is well on the way to reaching its target for female apprentices. (15.4 per cent of engineering and technical apprentice starts are female, up from 10 per cent in 2016/17).

It is encouraging to see growth in female numbers as they remained at 10 per cent last year.

A career for life

The highlight of the event was a panel debate chaired by STAT board member and former apprentice, Katie Kelleher.

It is always so inspiring to hear from apprentices, as these young people represent the industry’s future. It was interesting to hear the panels views on attracting and inspiring others.

During the discussion, an audience member asked the panel why tell other young people to join the industry? The key themes raised were ‘transport is a career for life’ with ‘loads of opportunities for progression’.

Other recommendations from the apprentices included to change the way apprenticeships are framed as the ‘failed option’. The panel agreed we need to re-frame apprenticeships as a route to success.

Industry working together to understand best practice

The three years of progress report calls for industry to work together to understand best practice in diversity and inclusion. It mentions the roundtable recently hosted by DfT Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly as one way this is happening. Women in Transport’s mentoring programme is mentioned as an example of a best practice approach discussed at the session. The report says another key theme discussed at the roundtable was the need to roll out flexible working arrangements to all staff. This is something I personally championed, as this issue comes up time and time again as something we need to solve.

The Three Years of Progress report was launched on 12 July at 55 Broadway in London.

Apprentices on the panel were: Jarrell Anthony, Kimmy Hibbert, Catriona Kilgour and Cameron O’Connell.