Responding to the recent criticisms about The Asian Apprenticeship Awards

September 2017

I rarely comment at length on any negativity which is written online about either the companies I work for/with or myself. But, in this case, I make an exception.

Recently, some comments were made online about The Asian Apprenticeship Awards and how it could be perceived as “discriminatory”, “segregating”, “racist” and “totally missing the point” to name a few. These comments are not new and in fact, the day we launched the awards last year, we prepared for these questions.

On several occasions I had people messaging and calling me asking to comment and share my thoughts on The Asian Apprenticeship Awards and my response to the concerns and criticism it had received. Many felt that the response I did give (which was very brief due to travel) was lacking real meat in responding to those who were unsure why we launched The Asian Apprenticeship Awards.

Below are my points in response:

1 – The Asian Apprenticeship Awards was launched to celebrate the very best British Asian Apprentices within the Asian community. The reason why we chose Asian was to address the underserved British Asian community where there is just over 4% representation in apprenticeship starts.

2 – These awards are not discriminatory, racist nor do they segregate the Asian community when it comes to apprenticeships. As mentioned, our rationale is to serve an underserved demographic. Had we done the BME or BAME Apprenticeship Awards, we would not have the same impact in the Asian community – one which we know too well. But for this, we set up the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance with more info on (And for those who questioning why we don’t have a generic apprentice awards, the Gov’t do and it’s called the National Apprenticeship Awards)

3 – Our support speaks for itself. Our sponsors for this year and last year combined gives us a large enough sector cap to justify our work. This is only going to increase. Our partnerships with some of the UK’s largest skills councils, employers and sector bodies gives us huge credibility. Several minister in the education and skills departments are supporting us to the extent that they are writing a public statement soon expressing their support. Our two Patrons – Dame Asha of West Nottinghamshire College and Dr Rami Ranger of Sunmark Ltd – are government ambassadors to apprenticeships.

Last year’s support:

“I was delighted to learn about the awards – it is great that you are bringing together BME Asian apprentices, businesses and providers to celebrate their successes” – Justine Greening – Secretary of State for Education

“These Awards are excellent! Young people with self-esteem, self respect and a ticket they know will set them on a path of realisation of aspiration, will be the immediate beneficiaries of the aura and esteem these Awards give the Asian Community, but our Country and our City will be the long-term beneficiary and that is a wonderful thing.” – Lord Digby Jones

“I strongly believe that more needs to be done to showcase the fantastic opportunities that an apprenticeship can offer all young people and that is why I am excited to be working with the Asian Apprenticeship Awards. I hope that by showcasing the Apprentice of the Year at The Skills Show we can unravel some of the myths that exist and inspire more young people, from all backgrounds, to consider an apprenticeship as a route to a successful and rewarding career” – Dr Neil Bentley – CEO of WorldSkills UK

4 – We are not sacrificing quality over ethnicity. Necessary checks will be made including detailed nomination forms, Ofsted, ISO, Investors in People, social media, success rates, evidence of work/case studies etc. Our judging criteria has been designed in accordance with the rules and regulations set by the National Apprenticeship Services with their awards.

5 – An interesting fact – The British Asian population of England is growing faster than the overall population. More than one in three (36.5%) British Asians are under 15, compared with fewer than one in five whites (18.5%). 58% of the demographics in a specific case of British Pakistanis in Birmingham are under 24 against 31.75% for White as a like for like comparison. This just shows a huge disparity between those British Asians who apply for an apprenticeships vs the number of young British Asians.

There are many more points I could make to justify the rationale behind The Asian Apprenticeship Awards. However, there’s no better way than to experience it for yourselves which is why I kindly invite you all to book and attend using the link

The Asian Apprenticeship Awards are the ONLY apprenticeship awards ceremony which recognises diversity in apprenticeships. We are now entering our second awards ceremony on November 2nd and we hope to receive your support in celebrating the next generation of industry leaders who began life as an apprentice. We WILL grow from strength to strength each year. There is no doubt about that.

Any further comments, please email me directly on

Isa Mutlib

Project Director for The Asian Apprenticeship Awards

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