Improved access to UK apprenticeships for those with learning difficulties or disabilities

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UK Government ministers have accepted in full the recommendations of a taskforce set up to explore access to apprenticeships for those with learning difficulties or disabilities (LDD)

The taskforce, named after its chair Paul Maynard MP, was commissioned by the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, and the Minister for Skills, Nick Boles MP. The UK Government has pledged to reach three million new apprenticeship starts by 2020 and to halve the disability employment gap.

A report by Peter Little OBE, published in January 2012, found that young disabled people are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) aged 16-18 compared to their non-disabled peers and three times as likely aged 19-24.

The taskforce made 14 recommendations including streamlining funding to support employers who take on apprentices with LDD, better publicising available employment incentives, and easing entry requirements.

Recommendation 2 proposes that the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) ’adjusts the minimum standard of English and maths required (to entry level 3) for a defined group of apprentices with learning difficulties and disabilities who are able to meet the occupational standard but will struggle to achieve English and maths qualifications at the level normally required.’

It adds that further work is needed ‘to define this group and its potential volume’ and to quantify the impact any changes will have on them. ‘This should be implemented in a way that ensures we have a robust system to avoid potential misuse of this adjustment,’ it adds.

The report also asks BIS to ‘investigates potential changes to the method of assessments for English and maths for targeted groups as some people with LDD may be able to demonstrate the minimum requirements in the workplace, but be unable to complete a formal assessment.’

On assistive technology the report recommends that BIS and DWP ‘consider the use of technology to support user-led strategies for apprentices with LDD’.

Officials from both departments will work to implement the report’s recommendations over the coming months, ‘recognising that some will be more difficult to put into practice than others, and that all recommendations should be completed alongside existing priorities to ensure a cohesive result.’

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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