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DR UK welcomes initiatives regarding disabled apprentices

13 January 2017

Changes happening to make apprenticeships more inclusive.

Note: We will be publishing a new edition of Into Apprenticeships shortly – it will be free to download and contain everything disabled people and advisors need to know to take advantage of apprenticeship opportunities.    

Government has introduced several helpful changes to make apprenticeships more inclusive.

Disability organisations like our own have proposed ways to improve access to apprenticeships and Government is listening. The Government’s target for 3 million apprentices by 2020 should be significantly assisted by measures that mean disabled people can access these opportunities.

The disability sector had long questioned the requirement to obtain specific qualifications (like GCSE English and Maths grade A-C) if apprentices can just as well learn on the job; or indeed, for some roles, if these qualifications are not needed at all. The Government initiated the Maynard Review that led to the recommendation to exempt disabled people with a learning difficulty from this requirement

We are now in discussions about the merits of extending this exemption to other disabled people who may have missed out on education.

We also discussed with the treasury the rules for the apprenticeship levy, in order to secure an additional payment for employers taking on a disabled person with an education and healthcare plan aged 19 to 24 years of age. This incentive can help employers cover any additional training or support needs. The government acted and reference to the change can be seen at paragraph 54.4 on page 15 in the guidance

An important change was also made in the interests of deaf and hearing impaired young people this month when British Sign Language (BSL) was recognised as the equivalent of a functional skill in English for apprentices. This gave the language the same status as English.

We are much encouraged by these moves and look to disabled apprentices, trainees, those hoping to become apprentices, and employers looking to capitalise on their skills and strengths - to tell us what more can be done.

Last October we held a workshop on inclusive apprenticeships addressed by Disabled People’s organisations, Government and skills providers: you can view a video of the event. We will be holding a further event on March 23rd on post-16 education and training in relation to young disabled people.