Last night I attended the launch of the Encompass positive action trainee scheme in LSE’s spectacular New Academic Building. This project seeks to recruit and place 50 people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds in trainee LIS roles around the country. Encompass is the result of collaboration between CILIP and PATH (Positive Action Training Highway), and currently has four London based employers signed up – Lewisham Libraries, the National Institute for Medical Research, LSE and the Houses of Parliament.
The traineeships last for three years, with trainees working and concurrently studying for an LIS masters degree part-time. They will work for four days a week and study for one day. In the third year of their contracts, the trainees are also given support to Charter, and are therefore given every opportunity to begin successful LIS careers. This will raise the number of BEM LIS professionals (only 2% of CILIP members consider themselves to be from BEM backgrounds currently), and so give rise to the new perspectives and fresh ways of thinking that are the products of a more diverse and representative profession.
The scheme is also vastly beneficial to employers for a number of reasons. It enables them to achieve strategic goals to do with equal opportunities and staff development. It is in their fiscal interest to employ a part-time trainee. And perhaps most importantly they have the opportunity to recruit new professionals, thus embracing all the energy and enthusiasm with which we are so intimately familiar.
I would encourage anyone reading this to raise their employer’s awareness of the Encompass scheme and the benefits it can bring to them, the profession and the individuals involved.