ADD2409 5 Cities Funding

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
17 December 2019
Decision by: 
Michelle Cuomo-Boorer, Assistant Director of Skills and Employment

Executive summary

Five cities in England (namely Manchester, London, Bristol, Birmingham, and Leicester) pledged to increase take up of apprenticeships among under-represented groups, including individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and/or those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Following that pledge, the Department for Education (DfE) launched the 5 Cities project and made available £20,000 in funding to each of those participants.

The approach suggested, approved in principle by the DfE, is to procure the delivery of a number of events from a third party to increase awareness of the obstacles to participation and promote best practice on recruitment, retention and support of apprentices from BAME and/or disadvantaged backgrounds. Whilst this decision form discusses in broad terms the approach to event management, it is proposed that the detailed proposals, to include number, scope, and intended outputs of events, is to be approved in writing by Senior Management.

This ADD is to confirm receipt of this money and to outline how the money shall be spent within a defined timeline over the course of calendar year 2020.


That the Assistant Director of Skills and Employment approves:

1. The receipt of £20,000 from the Department for Education (DfE) for the 5 cities programme; and

2. expenditure across financial years 19/20 and 20/21 on a series of engagement events to increase take up of apprenticeships among under-represented groups, including individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and/or those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

The Mayor’s equality and diversity strategy 2018 ‘Inclusive London’, referred to the DfE’s announcement of the launch of Diversity Hubs in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Leicester (p.77). These hubs were intended to focus on creating more apprenticeship opportunities and boosting BAME representation.

Since then, the hubs have been rebranded as the ‘5 Cities project’. In February 2018 the DfE unlocked £20,000 for each of the five participating cities ‘to promote the take-up of apprenticeships among under-represented groups, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and those from disadvantaged backgrounds’, in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

Section 2 defines in more detail, the expected scope, objectives, and outcomes of these events.

The DfE has been contacted to confirm that they were satisfied with the approach suggested in this decision form. DfE’s response was positive but specified that events were to take place no later than June 2020 – this has been reflected in the timeline in section 7. The DfE has confirmed that they would be implementing quarterly monitoring of the project, meaning regular meetings between the DfE representative and the GLA’s Senior Policy Officer who has been tasked with this project from its inception.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The scope of this project will be to arrange a number of engagement events. The content and exact number of events may vary. It is envisaged that content of each event will be informed by a careful analysis of the market based on data provided by the GLA Economics team, which will identify gaps in take-up of apprenticeships in specific sectors or amongst categories of employers. Content will also be shaped following early engagement with key internal and external stakeholders, including but not limited to: the DfE, NAS, and the Apprenticeships Advisory Group (a subordinate body of the Skills for Londoners Business Partnership).

Due to the content of the events and logistics depending on input from external stakeholders, it is suggested that the GLA keeps expenditure of the budget flexible over the calendar year 2020, rather than limiting it to financial year 2019/20. This way the GLA would produce better content for the events, and keep an increased number of dates available to key stakeholders, thus guaranteeing better participation in the events.

At this stage, it is in GLA’s intentions to plan the first event to coincide with the next National Apprenticeship Week, which is due Monday, 3 February 2020 – Friday, 7 February 2020. This is subject to a timely procurement of a third party organising said event. Having had initial discussions with TfL, the approach to procurement will be to obtain three quotations for the activities described in the next section.

The budget for this project will be mainly utilised by procuring a third-party organisation whose role is to manage the events, including:

• designing and planning the events;
• selecting venues;
• securing speakers and attendees;
• promoting the events;
• sending invites;
• providing catering;
• running the events smoothly, and ensuring that the events are inclusive of all participants; and
• distributing any material produced as a result of the discussions taking place at the events.

It is expected that none of the individual events will cost more than half the budget, i.e., it will amount to less than £10k. Any monies not paid to the third-party organising event will be spent in producing material for the event, to publicise the outcome of the events, and share lessons learnt.

The expected outcomes of these events are:

• an increased awareness of the obstacles to participation for under-represented groups and/or disadvantaged backgrounds;
• increased employer engagement;
• promotion of apprenticeships among under-represented groups and/or disadvantaged backgrounds;
• promotion of apprenticeships among individuals across all ages of all apprenticeships level (from Level 2 or from Level 2 or GCSE-equivalent through to Level 7, or Masters-degree level), to reflect the latest apprenticeship reform; and
• lessons learnt and best practice on recruitment, retention and support of individuals from those groups and/or backgrounds, gathered by the third-party event organiser and GLA officers. A report, produced by the GLA and the event organiser will be distributed at the end of the project

An initial option analysis is being prepared and will be presented to stakeholders shortly. This will help define the optimum number of events and their content and expected outputs.

Option analysis and specifications for procurement are being prepared in parallel to adhere to the timeline suggested.

Equality comments

This programme of work is specifically designed to improve businesses ability to recruit, retain, and support apprentices from BAME and/or disadvantaged backgrounds.

GLA officers commissioned GLA Economics to undertake a review of apprenticeship participation amongst Londoners with protected characteristics, in line with the Public Sector Equality Duty. The Economics team has produced a number of documents:

• Apprenticeships in London: Evidence on demand-side barriers (January 2018);
• Why are apprenticeship numbers low in London? GLA Economics research note for SfL Apprenticeships Task and Finish Group (January 2018);
• London apprenticeships: diversity data note (September 2018); and
• London Apprenticeship Landscape (September 2019).

The Economics team, when analysing diversity in London apprenticeships, looked at the following measures: participation in apprenticeships, apprenticeship type (by subject area, and level), and achievement rates. They also broke down analysis by the following characteristics: age, gender, ethnicity, and disability. Such data will inform the delivery of this project throughout; the project will be developed to respond to the initial questions raised by research and at the same time the project will be used to revert back to the Economics team with revised research question, integrating quantitative and qualitative data.

Meanwhile, an initial assessment of the aforementioned documents demonstrates that: specific groups of Londoners are under-represented in apprenticeship take-up in certain sectors, including construction and digital. Therefore, the events will address the root causes for under-representation, and share best practice as well as try to identify possible innovative solutions. This will ultimately enable us to understand how apprenticeship providers can learn from approaches taken to remove barriers faced by individuals in all ages from BAME and/or disadvantaged backgrounds, encourage their participation in apprenticeships, and foster good relations between those individuals and others with protected characteristics, as well as those without protected characteristics.

Other considerations

Risk management issues

There is a risk that money allocated to this project is unspent due to slippage, thus impacting on the intended outcomes. Allowing for the expenditure to take place over the calendar year, rather than the financial year would decrease such risk significantly.

There is a risk that event management is delayed and occurs beyond the deadline dictated by the DfE. A timely procurement of a third-party event organiser and tight project management will help mitigate against this risk.

Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

This project will interact with and complemented a number of current programmes, including but not limited to: the Apprenticeships for Londoners programme, the expansion of the London Enterprise Adviser Network (LEAN), the GLA’s coordination of apprenticeship ambassador activities in London, the Mayor’s Good Work Standard, the Skills and Employment Knowledge Hub, and the London Growth Hub.

There are no conflicts of interest to note for any of those involved in the drafting or clearance of the decision.

Financial comments

Approval is being sought for the receipt and expenditure of £20,000 from the Department of Education to promote apprenticeships amongst underrepresented groups in London.

As mentioned in section 2.2 the expenditure will take place between January 2020 – June 2020 therefore this programme will be funded from Skills and Employment Unit 2019/20 and 2020/21 budget.

Activity table



Procurement of contract

December 2019 – January 2020


January 2020

Delivery Start Date (first event)

February 2020

Delivery End Date (last event)

May 2020

Final evaluation: lessons learnt and best practice report

June 2020

Project Closure

June 2020

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