Mike Thompson, Chief Executive, Sustain HR Limited

#NationalInclusionWeek - Bridging the Employment Gap

At the heart of creating a diverse skilled workforce is having a skills system that supports everybody to thrive and develop no matter what background they come from or which barriers they may face.

Apprenticeships should be the perfect pathway for people with disabilities to access work and develop skills.

Worryingly, however, official statistics would suggest that there remains a gap in employment between those with declared disabilities and those without. DfE statistics show that in 2018/19, 12.3% of individuals starting an apprenticeship in England declared a Learning Difficulty or Disability (LDD).

Although the proportion has increased slightly each year from 7.7% in 2011/12, this still only represents just over half of the total proportion of people with disabilities in the UK – almost one in five (19.5%) of the working age population.

To understand why this is the case and what more can be done to close this gap, I was fortunate enough to be able to work with The Open University to undertake a comprehensive piece of research with employers in England and feed into the Access to Apprenticeships report.

The report looks at just how effectively our current skills system supports employers to recruit and develop people with physical impairments, mental health conditions and learning difficulties and what employers would like to see done to improve the system.

Employers hiring more apprentices with a declared disability

Encouragingly, the survey showed a strong desire to increase apprenticeship recruitment across both public and private sector employers and a focus on hiring more apprentices with a declared disability.

In particular, over one in three employers told us they had started to proactively recruit individuals with a disability over the past three years.

The employers we talked to did, however, highlight some significant barriers to meeting their ambitions including a lack of knowledge around the support available to them and insufficient financial and human resources to provide any extra support needed to recruit and develop individuals with a disability.

This is particularly the case with SMEs. Many employers rely on training providers to navigate the various sources of funding available but often these providers are themselves unclear on the eligibility criteria.

The latter barrier was highlighted in the Department of Education’s own report "Barriers to learning for disadvantaged adults" that it commissioned via the Learning and Work Institute in 2018 which stated that: “Most providers interviewed do not claim Additional Learning Support for these apprentices as they are unsure of the eligibility criteria and/or find it challenging to evidence the specific impact that mental health issues have on learning”. Little appears to have been done to date to fix this issue.

Simplifying eligibility criteria for additional funding support 

I would therefore urge the Department to see how can it simplify the eligibility criteria for additional funding support and do more to positively encourage providers to draw upon it?

Shouldn’t every apprentice have a thorough assessment of their needs from the very outset and any additional support put in place quickly and easily?

The OU recommends that the Department of Education looks at how funding and funding criteria can be simplified and floats the idea of a ‘top-up allowance’ – drawn from the existing Additional Learning Support funding – to cover assessment and put in place any adjustments that will support learning throughout the apprenticeship.

The readiness of leaders and operational teams to support apprentices with disabilities was also cited as a barrier with many employers feeling that their staff were ill-equipped and not sufficiently trained to support individual needs.

They would welcome additional support to train and educate their teams with training providers being seen as the preferred source of this support. Making high quality information advice and guidance available to employers and providers could, and should, be another very quick win for the Department. There is no shortage of information and guidance out there but it remains fiendishly difficult to track down.

Overall I am heartened by what I heard from employers in England as there is no doubt the will is there from employers large and small to diversify their workforces and unlock potential but barriers still remain if we are to bridge the employment gap.

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive, Sustain HR Limited

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page