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Disability and Skills Unit Apprenticeships Now event

03 March 2017

Disability Rights UK’s Disability Skills Unit would like to thank all our speakers and delegates for making Apprenticeships Now a successful and thought-provoking event on 23 March 2017.

Chris Renouf talked about how working for Channel 4 as an apprentice has given him a different outlook on disability. When lacking in confidence when other businesses only looked at his disability and saw restrictions, Channel 4 shook this up and said ‘you can do it’. The broadcaster has provided many opportunities, including opening up doors to other companies. But many companies are still ignorant about disability, overlooking the skills of individuals. Working in the media is fast paced. It is up to companies to not be afraid to embrace diversity, which will in turn make them more attractive.

Becoming the voice of the Paralympics was a ground-breaking moment for Chris.

According to Graeme Whippy of Channel 4, diversity is driven by creativity. Graeme talked about diversity being a core part of Channel 4 and that they lead by example. They have a dual approach by drawing attention to disability and to make disability the norm. Their strategy to become a best employer by 2020 includes their vision of achieving best culture, best capability and engagement, and best infrastructure. See presentation

Liz Sayce of Disability Rights UK explained that as an organisation of disabled people leading change, the strategic priorities of the organisation are independent living, career opportunities and getting work, education and skills, as well as influencing public attitudes and behaviours. DR UK works on influencing policy and provides. For example career advisers, may know about the labour market, but not a lot about disability whereas disabled organisations may not know a lot about the job market. It is also the reality of the experience not just the campaigning.

(André Imich, SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, DfE)

Andre Imich talked about the journey young disabled people make through education, the Local Offer, the EHC plan, and the statuary duties for FE colleges, sixth form colleges, 16-19 academies and independent specialist colleges approved under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (the Act): The duty to co-operate with the local authority on arrangements for children and young people with SEN; the duty to admit a young person if the institution is named in an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan; and the duty to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision that a young person needs. Andre also talked about EHCP and supported internships, discussing the need for more integration in mainstream schools and the challenges with local employers in providing placements for disabled young people.

(Atif Choudhury, CEO and Adam Hyland, Director, DnA Matters)

Adam Hyland and Atif Choudhury from DnA talked about the many things that affect our wellbeing, including mental health, our sense of being and sense of inclusion, and that we should be looking for work that is inspiring and not just getting a job. They also discussed disability and cultural change exploring how disability is not the problem but it is society that creates the barriers and what we need is a culture of inclusion.

(Sarah Riches, Operational Specialist, Barclays Apprenticeship Programme)

Sarah Riches from Barclays talked about their ‘Able to Enable Supported Mental Health Internship Programme’, which was created to directly address the social challenges of mental health and access to employment. This is an eight step process where people are assessed on their merits and ability. 

Jonathan talked about how being an intern at Barclays has opened up opportunities for learning new skills. Furthermore, by bringing the many years of previous experience into the workplace he has felt appreciated and valued at Barclays.

(Liz Davies, Senior Researcher and Lauren Bennett, Learning and Work Institute)

Liz Davies and Lauren Bennett from the Learning and Work Institute talked about supporting apprentices with learning difficulties and disabilities. They discussed the Maynard Recommendations and best practice examples including bespoke approaches using the supported employment and client centred model, preparing for adulthood and social enterprises.  

Daniel Simons of the Skills Funding Agency talked about new developments and the apprenticeship levy. Daniel also discussed the need for more diversity and the need to remove barriers with focus on ability not disability, as well as the Apprenticeship Champion Network.

Stuart Edwards from DWP talked about the Access to Work Scheme There are currently 36,000 people in receipt of Access to Work.

Disability and Skills Unit