Lord Hall celebrates the upcoming launch of the BBC’s new apprenticeship programme developed with the Sutton Trust in a comment piece for the Times.
Social mobility is a cause that’s very close to my heart. As someone who grew up on Merseyside in a household where neither parent was university educated, and who was lucky enough to be awarded a council-funded place at an independent school, it’s something I have always been passionate about.
I have long argued that this remains an area where the UK has a real problem. The media sector in particular still has a reputation as a “who you know” industry, with unpaid internships offered through contacts or networks. This is something we have banned at the BBC, because it inevitably favours the well off and the well connected, particularly from the southeast of England, and it means fewer opportunities for those with fewer means.
Research from the social mobility charity the Sutton Trust last year suggested that across the UK in general a disproportionate number of apprenticeship places were being awarded to middle-class teenagers and older people, leaving less privileged youngsters behind.
This is something we want to help tackle directly. Next week, as we host the official launch of National Apprenticeships Week, the BBC will be launching two groundbreaking new pre-employment training programmes.
The first, based in London and Salford, is designed to level the playing field for 50 school leavers from socially diverse backgrounds. Developed with the Sutton Trust, it will support disadvantaged students to apply for sought-after apprenticeships both in the BBC and across the wider creative sector.
The second, based in Cardiff, will offer ten full-time paid traineeships to high-potential raw talent. Each trainee will receive intensive BBC training in journalism and all the support they need to give them a fair shot at ten brand new BBC Wales journalism apprenticeships.