About Step Forward

Step Forward is an award-winning apprenticeship programme in London

Step Forward is a unique, 12-month apprenticeship scheme for 17-20 year olds and London employers. It was formed in 2013 by leading social integration charity, The Challenge.

The job market today is harder than ever for young people. 55% of employers claim that school leavers don’t have the soft skills needed to succeed at work and 44% of positions are filled using personal networks. With skills shortages present in major industries The Challenge decided to use its mission to improve the situation for both young people and employers.

Apprenticeships are the perfect way for young people to acquire technical and soft skills, providing a cost-effective source of young talent to employers. There is a perception that apprenticeships are only for bricklayers and beauticians and for those that are not academically talented, but modern apprenticeships allow young people to study in anything at any level and we aim to produce well-rounded young professionals with valuable networks.

Mountains of research prove that diverse groups in the workplace improve innovation, productivity and creativity. Through our successful National Citizen Service programme we have links to 98% of secondary schools across London providing access to a mixed group of school leavers.

Our diversity statistics reflect this, with above average figures for BAME, free school meal and female students. And employers are not the only ones to benefit.

We arrange regular opportunities for our apprentices to mix with their entire cohort to create varied professional networks that will benefit them whatever their future goals. During these sessions we coach them in professional skills, discuss careers, bring in external speakers, educate them in citizenship and facilitate social action projects.

As all of this runs alongside training and work we require a big commitment from our apprentices but we believe that the benefits they gain are worth every moment. To support our apprentices along this journey we provide a mentor for each apprentice and provide access to impartial, external groups such as My Mental Health, Brook Advisory Services and the National Careers Service.

This not only takes the strain from their shoulders but also from their employer. They can feel confident that we are comprehensively supporting their employee’s development so they can focus on their core role, and that their apprentice will add value as quickly as possible.


  • 84% apprentice completion rate: that’s 17% above the UK national average

  • 4/5 of our graduates are better at understanding others as a result of Step Forward

  • 100% of our apprentices are in full time work or education one year after completing Step Forward

Our Mission

Step Forward’s purpose is to build a bridge from education to employment for growing numbers of recent school leavers from all backgrounds.

The Challenge design and deliver programmes that bring people together to develop their confidence and skills in understanding and connecting with others.


Who We Work With

Step Forward provides apprentices to large and small employers across London

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