Barking and Dagenham, along with Hackney, stand in the top 10 most deprived local authorities in England, meaning working-class young people in those areas are nearly 80 per cent less likely to end up in professional jobs than their well-off peers. As all of the organisations involved in ELBA’s round-table discussion on tackling knife crime recognised, genuine opportunity for social mobility, real chances of getting a good job, ambition and hope are crucial to finding a way out of poverty and a culture of violence.
“Until we created the apprenticeship scheme, there was no formal route for those without experience or relevant qualifications to gain work experience and potential employment in our London office”
As an organisation that bridges the gap between business and grassroots action, ELBA is uniquely placed to understand those challenges – and help deliver innovative solutions. One of the most ambitious and successful programmes it has been involved with is recruiting apprentices for global financial firm T. Rowe Price. Based in the heart of the City of London, they were keen to seek greater presence from the local community in their workforce, and their apprenticeship scheme was an obvious means to achieve this.
T. Rowe Price regional head of engagement and corporate responsibility, Mandy Maskell, explains that having a diverse and inclusive workforce is “a business and cultural imperative,” and believes financial firms have a responsibility to make sure people who aren’t already connected to the industry can learn about it easily.
“Until we created the apprenticeship scheme, there was no formal route for those without experience or relevant qualifications to gain work experience and potential employment in our London office,” she says. “We want to attract talented, socially responsible people who in turn give back to their communities. It’s a win-win all round.”
T. Rowe Price currently has four apprentices, a number the firm hopes to increase as the workforce grows. Through the programme, apprentices can access mentoring and industry-recognised qualifications – as well as kick-start their corporate careers. And the success of the partnership with ELBA has inspired the company to get creative about how it could do even more social good: the firm is gearing up to launch a work experience programme for 14- to 16-year-olds from the local community. This will help school pupils gain valuable insight into what asset management is and the variety of careers on offer.
Dwayne Griffiths is a return-to-work apprentice at the firm. He was working as a civil servant aged 18 when he was forced to stop work due to depression and, because of the illness, was unemployed for several years. “The longer you’re out of work, the more it knocks your confidence,” he says. “You wonder if people would ever give you a chance.