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A coalition for change

Architect Apprentice Carmel Simmonds explains the need for diversity and inclusivity within the profession and explains how this can be achieved by nurturing young talent from all races, classes, education routes, and backgrounds.

As an architectural apprentice, I have had the privilege of experiencing the industry from both academic and practical perspectives. Apprenticeships offer a viable alternative to university education, providing students with training, experience, and a diverse network that equips them with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their profession. While apprenticeships are not always easy to find and can be highly competitive, it is essential to promote these schemes to support talent from all backgrounds.

As someone from a working-class background, I understand the challenges of finding connections within the architecture industry. To help others like myself, I have participated in outreach schemes that aim to encourage young people, particularly those from non-traditional backgrounds, to consider apprenticeships or other alternative routes to further study.

The younger generation is more aware of the profession’s inaccessibility and concerns regarding its elitist and privileged disposition. Therefore, it is crucial to assure them that working towards their dreams is possible with the aid of these new non-traditional routes. The initiative, Home Grown Plus, is dedicated to promoting and championing young architects and creatives from non-traditional and traditional backgrounds. It aims to source the best talent from across the community, overcoming any issues that may arise from working across an acknowledged cultural divide.

Architecture is struggling to tackle diversity due to multiple factors; including the recruitment procedure through prestigious universities, the shortfall of awareness and support within working-class and ethnic communities, and employers’ struggle with cultural education. Platforms such as Home Grown Plus and Girls Under Construction aim to combat this issue by nurturing each cohort to support a network that can aid their aspirations.

The need for diversity from all races, classes, education routes, and backgrounds is vital if we are to design for a world that truly represents everyone. We must celebrate our cultural heritage and encourage cultural education within design. The panorama of this world is changing, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the change is positive.

Throughout my career journey, I have met many talented, resilient, and passionate people who are advocating for change in the industry. Their efforts to promote recognition of ethnic minority groups and the obligation to take accountability by supporting diversity are inspiring. We must design for everyone, not just the westernised society we are taught to accommodate within the current education system. It is time to celebrate and embrace our differences, design inclusively, and build a better world for all.