The government went to the trouble of setting a target in 2015 to increase apprenticeship starts for ethnic minorities, but Justine Greening’s claim of a “big focus” in the past two years simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

And it’s worth considering what a 20-per-cent increase actually means in terms of actual figures.

The government told us that this week that it’s only looking to increase the number of BAME apprenticeships to just under 12 per cent overall – from just over 10 per cent in 2015/16.

Would a simple shift in general demographics achieve that 20-per-cent increase by 2020 – without DfE doing anything proactively?

Despite a gap of more than a year from the commitment, at the end of 2015, to launching in February 2017, the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network could help make a significant difference. But far more than 27 employers need to not only get involved, and begin to proactively recruit BAME apprentices.

So FE Week will be watching the work of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network closely.

And in the general context of promoting social mobility, we won’t shy away from continuing to fact check ministerial claims.

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