Hear from Alisha Kasobya – Multicultural Apprenticeship Award winner 2023

During year 11, it became clearer to me that the post-graduate labour market had become intensely competitive with supply outstripping demand for employees. COVID-19 only further exacerbated the situation which led to me exploring and investigating alternative pathways, such as degree apprenticeships.

Throughout my upbringing both in the UK and Uganda, I witnessed several talented family members embark on the traditional academic route; only to graduate and face limited job prospects whereby most opportunities led to underemployment. As a second-generation immigrant, it was apparent to me the issues of crippling post-graduate debt and racial inequalities in UK labour market hinder ethnic minorities from prospering.

During sixth form, I began to explore different industries via virtual work experience which I discovered through independent research. At all these events across various industries, several degree apprenticeships were highlighted to me as a viable route to achieving a degree qualification. My mentor at the time encouraged me and provided guidance surrounding the benefits to entering the workforce at 18. As all this evidence arose about apprenticeships, university full-time became less feasible to me due to cost and lack of opportunities to apply my learning to real-life scenarios.

Alisha Kasobya Award Photo

Degree apprenticeships provided me with an opportunity to avoid falling into an ever-present cycle that most ethnic minority post-graduates fall into.

Alisha Kasobya, Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards Winner

Despite being accepted into all the universities that I applied to, was a delight but led to many realisations for me. To be one of thousands who was accepted into a Russell group university, I knew I would struggle finding a way to differentiate myself from my course peers who all probably had similar career ambitions to me. The aforementioned limited opportunities for real-world application paired with the sheltered nature of university life would have left me severely unprepared for entering the working world. I was aware that I preferred a set, but dynamic arrangement provided through an apprenticeship as it would allow me to grow organically whilst guiding me towards achieving the skills, I needed to be successful manager. Lastly, I was heavily swayed away from accepting my university offers as I knew that chance to lead and development management skills at early in my career would be invaluable in supporting my journey towards senior management as minority.

Early on in my apprenticeship journey, I was struggling with a major imposter syndrome as to coming to grips with my LGBTQ+ gender identity combined with being the only POC sales apprentice was nerve-wracking and I struggled with fears and insecurities about how my complex identity would be perceived in a historically non-diverse industry. This thinking led to me having significant imposter syndrome and associated mental health challenges, as I held the self-inflicted burden of feeling like I must prove myself as I would be representing all POC who will join defence in future.

 “In future, I am looking forward to working with the Multicultural Apprenticeship Alliance as an apprenticeship ambassador for the Multicultural Apprentice Network, sharing more tips and lessons learnt from my time in the professional world.”

Alisha Kasobya Award Photo Side

However, this first award that I received, provided me with more confidence in my skills as it celebrated my work ethic. As an apprentice, I have learned that my value added to MBDA and the wider apprenticeship space is not only associated with the different identities and groups I fall into but comes from the skills and knowledge that will grow as I continue to push myself into challenging but rewarding environments and scenarios.

Since my first year, many great things have happened to me within and beyond my apprenticeship. A key milestone being my win at the Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards where I was recognised as the top management apprentice in the UK. This was a great honour and proved to me that my hard work over the last 3 years was paying off. Upon reflection, the opportunities I have been given at MBDA have been incredible and provided me ample opportunity to grow. Since winning, I have provided sessions for aspiring apprentices through my work with the Black Apprentice Network; this work has allowed me to share more about why it’s important to put yourself out there as an apprentice.