The TUC has decided to mark this year’s National Apprenticeship Week by publishing the first ever lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) inclusive guide to apprenticeships.

Produced by its learning and skills organisation, Unionlearn, the publication is intended to help union reps fully support LGBT apprentices in the workplace.

Available at https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-02/LGBTApprenticeships_0.pdf, the guide explores the barriers LGBT people can face at work, explains workplace rights and offers practical advice on how to improve diversity.

It also stresses the importance of clear and robust policies and a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination and harassment.

This follows TUC research, published last year, which found that nearly seven in 10 (68%) LGBT people reported being sexually harassed at work.

Government data from 2017 showed that 4.2% of 16 to 24 year-olds in the UK identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, while overall the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates the LGB population within the UK is 2%.

The National Society of Apprentices (NSOA) has warned that many young people identifying as LGBT+ do not apply for apprenticeships because of concerns about how employers will react to them coming out.

Unionlearn director Kevin Rowan said: “Apprentices come from a wide range of backgrounds. It’s so important for all of them to feel safe at work and able to grow in their chosen profession. But many employers could do more to ensure their apprenticeships support lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.”

He called on employers to have policies in place to make sure their workplaces are inclusive and highlighted that they need to ensure those policies are working.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

With inequality in the workplace remaining a key area of scrutiny, it comes as no surprise that this call for inclusivity is now being seen in apprenticeship schemes.

While it will not be compulsory for employers to follow this guide, they should remember that acts of discrimination or harassment are unlawful and can result in costly discrimination claims.

For companies that are considering offering apprenticeship schemes, it is highly advisable to work to attract as many candidates as possible. To this end, taking steps to encourage inclusivity, such as following the guidelines outlined here, may help to increase the chances of such schemes being a success.

Last reviewed 12 February 2020