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Accessible Apprenticeships helping employers create opportunities for everyone

We were delighted to host our first in-person Accessible Apprenticeships Workshop in partnership with British Association of Supported Employment and London Councils on 7 July 2023.

Part of our Ability NOT Disability workshop series, the event attracted around 30 local businesses, employment support teams, apprenticeship experts and apprentices keen to look at inclusive opportunities and the help available to get people into work and kickstart their careers.

As well as hearing about the benefits for employers and the proven social and economic business case for businesses, delegates received take-home resources to help address commonly heard objections.

Watch a recording of the workshop.

Sarah Murray, Director of Local London said “At Local London we run a number of programmes aimed at helping people of all ages across our boroughs understand career opportunities and to support them into work. In an ideal world all apprenticeships would be accessible to everyone. To help get us to that point we need to consider how we create opportunities that allow all young people and adults to pursue their career goals. Along with our recent Learning Disabilities and Difficulties careers fairs, the workshops in our Ability NOT Disability series are some of the ways we’re trying to do that.”

Apprenticeships and supported employment expert Holly Kelleher explained “By bringing everybody together like this and getting all of our thoughts on the table and getting all of our barriers exposed as well, we can start to see the solutions…There is nothing wrong with smashing these job descriptions and giving people jobs that they are really good at.”

Picture of tables and chairs for the panel with big screen behind introducing the Ability not Disability workshop

Accessible apprenticeships can transform businesses and the lives of apprentices thrive in an inclusive environment where they can develop their own skills. This can boost their confidence in all spheres of their lives and their economic independence. Proving this, 70% of apprentices who have been supported through Unity Works have gone on to find or remain in paid employment following completion of their programmes.

Photo of the panel from Unity Works sat at the front of the room taking questions about apprentices.

“We are as capable as an able-bodied or a neuro-typical person”

“I started as an apprentice back in 2019” said Pasim Qureshi, Haringey Council “It’s a great way of learning and getting experience…Some employers hesitate about having employees who have a learning disability or are autistic or neuro-diverse because they don’t have the experience of working with those people. So try to work with them, see how it is. If you are not a manager, you become a manager by working with them. You learn about them, they learn about how you do things. It’s a win-win.” He summed up “Ultimately we are as capable as an able-bodied or a neuro-typical person.”

Main learning points

  • There is a wide range of support for employers.
  • Massive untapped talent pool keen to work.
  • Demand especially for Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships.
  • Making adjustments, carving jobs and being flexible are key.
  • Individuals can excel with the right support – there are organisations who can help with this.
  • There are different English and Maths requirements for individuals with health and care plans.
  • “You don’t have to be able to spell gâteau to be able to make a good one!”

 Key benefits for employers

  • Loyal own-grown employee base.
  • New thinking that can help organisation reach more people.
  • Encourages all staff to be more inclusive.
  • Accessible roles can save organisations time and money.
  • Can benefit local community by giving people who want to work an opportunity.
  • Improve the reputation of a business.

“I would call on all employers to attend workshops like this”

Attending the event, Farida Messaadi from Mercato Metropolitano said “I have absolutely learned a lot more despite that fact that as a company we have always embraced inclusive apprenticeships. There were many expert speakers, and we will be sharing the information and tools we have got today. I would call on all employers in London and beyond to attend (or initiate) workshops like this one.”

Photo of packed room listening to a speaker at the front

Part of our No Wrong Door work, funded by the Mayor of London and UK Community Renewal Fund, the interactive workshop also included an opportunity for delegates to network over lunch. The conversations were electric, with many exchanging contact details.

Want to find out more?

For more information on accessible apprenticeships please find below some useful starting points:

Thanks to our speakers:

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Further reading

  1. Previous No Wrong Door Report recommends better integration of employment and skills services
  2. Next Hitting high notes with our E-business programme