“You’re hired!” Apprentice success as Camden helps plug maternal employment gap

On Tuesday 25 November Camden Council celebrated its first adult apprentices starting work as part of a bold new initiative to help mums into work.Councillor Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council met two of the first adult apprentices to start work, council library apprentices Fatima Kanij and Carly Mitchell at Pancras Square Library.

The two year pilot, launched in April 2014, is targeted at women over 25 with children and aims to support ten mums into flexible, part-time apprenticeships paying the London Living Wage.

The scheme is part of the Council’s drive to tackle inequality across the borough. The pilot was developed after the Council’s own research revealed that 34% of lone-parent families in workless households in London are living in poverty. This compares to a figure of 17% where a parent works part time and 8% where a parent works full time. For couples, the risk of poverty is 54% with no one in work and 6% with one parent in full-time work and one in part-time work.

There are significant barriers to creating apprenticeships for mothers. Government funding for apprenticeships is focused on the under 25’s and employers can too easily be put off from employing parents as apprentices because they need flexible hours and a salary which is high enough to pay for childcare.

Cllr Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council
“Despite facing the largest local government funding cuts in living memory we are ambitious about tackling the biggest challenges that local people face. We know there’s a link between maternal unemployment and child poverty which is driven by the high costs of childcare and few opportunities for flexible part-time work in London. We want to help mums find jobs that work with their family commitments and help them to develop careers for the long term.

“We launched this pilot having heard the same story over and over again from too many mothers in Camden. They wanted to work, but were frustrated at the limited opportunities available. Jobs either did not pay enough to make the cost of childcare worthwhile, or provide the flexible hours a working family needs. This scheme will mean that ten talented women go back to work, which will be good for them, good for their new employers and good for their children.

“There has been a positive response from local employers to the scheme, and particularly from sectors such as construction where women are traditionally under-represented and which also suffers from skills shortages.”
Cllr Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council

Notes to editors

  • Other local companies involved in the scheme who will shortly have apprentices starting are:
    • Communities into Employment and Training are recruiting an apprentice Employment and Training Assistant who will start in January 2015.
    • Two Document Control Apprentices will begin employment with K10 in February 2015.
    • A Catering Apprentice and an Event Apprentice will join The Quakers in March 2015.
    • Karen Hockham, another adult apprentice, has started employment as a Catering Apprentice at Holborn Community Association. Now that her child is at school Karen is able to focus on developing her own career. The hours offered by Holborn Community Association fit perfectly around the school run.
    • The council are continuing to identify and secure additional positions to ensure that the project achieves its target of 10 apprentices into post by March 2015.
  • For more information visit:
  • Last year Camden set up an Equality Taskforce which highlighted the link between London’s high levels of child poverty and low levels of maternal employment. This is driven by the high costs of childcare and lower levels of flexible part-time work in the capital. To address this issue, Camden introduced 25 hours of childcare a week, which is ten hours on top of the Government’s 15 hour provision.
  • Fatima Kanij and Carly Mitchell have both been offered Customer Service Apprenticeships at Swiss Cottage Library. Fatima is a mother of three children aged five and under and has been out of work for five years while she was bringing them up. Carly took time out to have twins two years ago and decided to return to the workplace after they recently started nursery (Further information and quotes from Fatima, Carly and Karen Hockham is available on request).
  • All three apprentices were attracted to these apprenticeships due to the flexible part time hours, the opportunity to study towards a qualification at the same time as earning and the support offered to them to access suitable childcare options where relevant.