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Increasing employment opportunities for disabled learners

An employer-led group has recommended action to help young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) make the transition from education to employment.

The report - ‘Through learning to earning’ – was put together by the Transitions to Employment Group, chaired by former Lloyds Banking Group senior manager Graeme Whippy MBE. It recommends that employers offer more supported internships, opening up apprenticeships to more young people with SEND, and better careers advice. 

The report states that: “It is self-evident that progress in employment for disabled people depends on a significant increase in the number of employers being prepared to employ them, and to offer work experience opportunities to pave the way.”

Its recommendations include:

  • A call to action for employers - build into Disability Confident a commitment to take key steps such as recruiting supported interns and disabled trainees/apprentices, working with schools, colleges and recruitment agencies.
  • A rapid expansion in supported internships – to be offered by more employers and education providers.
  • Extend the internship approach to more students – elements of the internship model (such as job coaches) can improve employment progression for students with milder impairments, making traineeships and apprenticeships inclusive and effective for all.
  • An inclusive careers strategy – the forthcoming Department for Education careers strategy should address concerns about the disconnect between careers and disability advice, with action to improve outcomes for young people with SEND.

The report also highlights ways that the disability confident agenda can be developed. It recommends a commitment to offer jobs through apprenticeships and concrete work placements, appropriately assisted under the supported internship and traineeship banners. This is alongside reciprocal agreements so that in return for the employer committing to take a number of students, they receive guaranteed services in return, including Access to Work support for job coaches and other help for trainees, and a premium rate of payment funded by the Apprenticeship Levy.

Fair Train works with a number of Natspec specialist colleges that are accredited with the national Work Experience Quality Standard, and has seen the challenges they face first hand in terms of finding placements for learners. We welcome this report and the proposed incentives for employers to offer more placements and ultimately get more disabled people into employment so that they can live more rewarding lives.

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