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Breaking down barriers with the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance

Q&A with Stephen Ram-Kissun Head of International Business Development and Marketing at NOCN

How did NOCN get involved with BAME Apprenticeship Alliance?

NOCN has been in partnership with BAME Apprenticeship Alliance since June 2017, a relationship I have nurtured and supported in my position as Head of International Business Development and Marketing, working closely with Isa Mutlib, Executive Director at BAME Apprenticeship Alliance to improve diversity in apprenticeships. NOCN works hard to guarantee that its Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) commitments resonate across all collaborations, and this partnership is a perfect fit and opportunity to do this.

Why is NOCN a patron of BAME Apprenticeship Alliance and why is the organisation and its aims so important?

NOCN is committed to valuing all people, giving equal access to learning opportunities, removing discrimination and breaking down barriers. To ensure that this is reflected across our organisation and the work we deliver, we have EDI champions in place to support employees and learners and raise awareness of the importance of BAME integration. Our EDI champions are Ajay Purbhoosing, Account Executive in the Business Development team and Stephen Collinson, Registration and Awards Officer at our delivery partner organisation, One Awards and both work hard to ensure that our diversity aims are achieved.

Why is it important to increase BAME engagement in apprenticeships?

The Government has set a target to increase the uptake of BAME apprenticeships by 20% by 2020. NOCN is committed to supporting the government’s social mobility drive and aims to break down barriers across the FE sector and is supporting this in a number of ways.

The Asian Apprenticeship Awards and the National Centre for Diversity Grand Awards, both of which NOCN is proud to sponsor, aim to recognise and celebrate the talent and diversity among apprentices within the BAME community, whilst providing a platform to generate proactive conversations and increase the uptake of apprenticeships from ethnic minority communities. This is important and as leaders in our field we have an obligation to challenge stereotypes in the sector.

How does this fit with NOCN's 'Valuing All' programme?

The NOCN ‘Valuing All people’ ethos and principles are at the core of our organisation. Working in partnership with the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance helps to support our position as the ethical apprenticeship choice for training providers and employers. We are aware that there is sometimes a lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to acceptance which results in short-sighted behaviour and it’s our responsibility to break down those barriers in order to welcome a larger participation and achieve tangible results.

What will it mean going forward to have the two organisations working together?

We believe that working together for a common cause is stronger than working alone and this provides a fantastic opportunity to put into action our shared commitment to promoting EDI. We pride ourselves on practicing what we preach as leaders in diversity and we have brilliant case studies to support this. We have big plans to increase the range and volume of data collected from our centres to inform our EDI strategy and future development and ultimately improve our services.

As our partnership evolves with BAME Apprenticeship Alliance, we have a duty of care to equip our staff through training and information so that they become ambassadors and continue the work of our EDI champions to encourage responsibility and accountability, amongst staff and trustees, raising awareness of the importance of BAME apprenticeships.


“The BAME Apprenticeship Alliance is a community of organisations that work together to address BAME diversity of apprentices within the workplace. There is clear evidence of diversity within the workplace having significant impact on the performance of the organisation.”

“NOCN are Patron Members of the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance. As an organisation, they bring a wealth of experience within the apprenticeship sector which fellow members have widely benefitted from. With the thoughts and contribution from Patrons like NOCN, we are able to share best practises with fellow Patrons and those in the apprenticeship sector to improve BAME diversity.” - Isa Mutlib, Executive Director of The BAME Apprenticeship Alliance.