6lack appeals for more apprentices

The rapper 6lack stands in front of a signt that says 'Apprentice Nation' Image copyright Ben Dance

Rapper 6lack is helping to launch a new initiative aimed at getting young people into apprenticeships.

This week he played a one-off gig for Apprentice Nation, a platform aiming to inspire 16-24 year olds through music.

To get a ticket, people had to do an action day, helping a local community.

6lack, who flew to the UK especially to perform, says it was "an opportunity to help other people" and to talk about how he got to where he is.

Speaking to BBC Radio 1Xtra, he explains that we have it "drilled in our heads" to follow a traditional route - go to college then get a career like a doctor or fireman.

Image copyright Ben Dance
Image caption 6lack took to his mic to inspire young people

"I think it's cool to focus on the non-traditional methods and the non-traditional careers," he says.

6lack's performance was part of a project between RockCorps, which gets young people to take part in social actions, and WhiteHat, which helps match non-graduates with apprenticeships.

"It's about getting on that first rung of the ladder and music is an incredibly powerful way to communicate," says co-founder of the scheme Stephen Greene.

"We start a conversation around music and then we get into helping people into the careers they love."

Image copyright Ben Dance
Image caption 6lack performing at Under the Bridge

Euan Blair co-founded Apprentice Nation with Stephen Green and tells Newsbeat 6lack was the perfect artist to launch the initiative.

"6lack has long been talking about issues around employment and access to opportunities.

"It really made sense to collaborate with him as an artist who's putting transformative access for young people to opportunities at the heart of his music."

Growing up, the three-time Grammy nominee was told that pursuing his passion might be difficult.

But 6lack says it's his education that he really values because it helped him learn to perform: "There were so many things that I did pick up from school that I wouldn't have been able to pick up anywhere."

Image copyright Ben Dance
Image caption Apprentices at last night's gig

The singer-songwriter has collaborated with artists like Normani and Khalid, but he is keen for people to know that finding what you like might take some time.

"Some people don't make it happen until their 20s, some people don't make it happen until their 30s.

"As long as you find something in the meantime and stay true to what you love it's all good."

The Apprentice Nation gigs will be taking place across the UK throughout the year.

Other artists and gigs will be announced on their website in due course.

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