The number of disabled people in apprenticeships has more than tripled in the last 10 years.
The increase, from 12,960 in 2002/03 to 42,850 in 2012/13, slightly outstrips the growth in apprenticeships overall.
This summer also marks 1 year on since the Prime Minister launched the Disability Confident campaign to help more disabled people into apprenticeships and jobs and dispel the myths around the costs of hiring someone with a disability. More than 1,000 companies have supported the campaign, including Barclays, KPMG and Balfour Beatty, who are all trying to attract talented disabled people as part of their apprenticeships recruitment drive.
With thousands of students across the country considering their next path after their GCSE results, the Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper says a disability shouldn’t be a barrier to getting an apprenticeship:
More and more employers are seeing the ability, rather than the disability when it comes to recruiting talented apprentices. Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular choice for young people and it’s absolutely right that disabled people are taking advantage of these opportunities.
Michael Walby, Director of Professional Qualification Training at KPMG said:
KPMG is proud to be a disability confident employer and have a number of young people on our student programmes who have disabilities.
As a large employer we believe that talented people are the heart of our business, and take great effort to provide our staff with the support that they need to have a fulfilling career with us. As a disability confident employer, we provide an atmosphere that encourages our students to feel confident in having honest conversations about the support that they need from us in order to thrive. This culture is something we foster from their very initial contact with us.
Being able to attract young people from the widest possible talent pool, regardless of disability, is absolutely vital in keeping a business competitive and moving it forward. As a progressive employer we encourage applications from school leavers with a diverse range of academic achievement and have a number of programmes on offer to enable young people to fulfil their potential and gain valuable work experience.
Chief Executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking Ashok Vaswani said:
People with disabilities have huge amounts of ideas and energy to offer employers, which no forward-thinking business can afford to do without. I urge all businesses to seriously consider what they can do as employers to attract more people with disabilities to their apprenticeship schemes.
Jake Andrews is 20 and has cerebral palsy
Jake (pictured) applied for 40 roles and eventually his perseverance paid off when he was offered an interview at HR firm AdviserPlus and subsequently landed an apprenticeship in their learning and development department. He works 4 days a week in the office, and spends the other day at college. Jake has never let his condition get in the way of his ambitions and believes disabled people have a huge amount of talent to bring to the workplace.
I’m aware that I have a disability, but I’ve never known any different and it’s never stopped me from doing anything. What drives me is the pride of going to work, doing a job and being respected. That’s really important to me.
There are lots of people out there who have a disability but who want to work and are more than capable of doing a job. I’m sure I’m not alone in being a disabled person who wants a career and to be able to earn a living.
Falklands veteran and businessman Simon Weston and Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Christiansen spearheaded the Disability Confident campaign which has had roadshows in 7 locations across the country, bringing together local employers and disabled people to showcase the talents of disabled people at work. Businesses as diverse as Honda, Sainsbury’s, Barclays, Asda, Fujitsu, Marks and Spencer, easyJet, TfL, BP, Glaxosmithkline, Royal Mail and Balfour Beatty have committed to changing their employment practices with disabled people.
Top tips for applying for apprenticeships
Jobcentre Specialist Work Coach, Lyril Rawlins, has given some top tips for applying for apprenticeships:
Access to Work
Don’t immediately rule out an apprenticeship if you think your disability will be a barrier. Many employers offer support or equipment to help you do your job. You can also apply for Access to Work funding from the government which can cover extra costs.
Focus on ability
It is your choice whether you declare your disability. The most important thing is to focus on your ability, rather than disability.
Skills assessment tool
Use the National Careers Service skills assessment tool. This helps people to identify their strengths and can identify other jobs which can be accessed, using your skill-sets.
If you struggle to describe the skills you have used in your previous careers, the Job profiles section of the National Careers Service website offers the best duties and skills descriptions I have come across. Useful for updating your CV also (2 for the price of 1).
Learning new skills
Remember the changes which took place in the job you had? Then, when you see an item or system which you have not had much experience in, you can explain to the potential employer how you were able to absorb new skills in your former workplace, after appropriate training (effectively what you will be doing in your apprenticeship!)
Keep looking at the national Apprenticeships site and broaden your horizons. A positive mental attitude can achieve great goals.
The support IS out there – you just need to ask.