From education to employment

Student Inclusive Support Needs Explored with Employers

meeting room of people

Leading employers across the West Midlands joined forces at BMet’s Matthew Boulton College this week, to discuss work-focused opportunities for young people and young adults with disabilities.

BMet hosted the Employer Roundtable Event on “Supporting Internships and Accessible Apprenticeships for Students with Disabilities” to collectively explore how businesses can adapt to meet the needs of students with disabilities, learning difficulties, or specific inclusion requirements who may need extra support.

Around 30 guest employers from a variety of organisations including Birmingham Children’s Trust, Birmingham City Council, Equans, Fortem Solutions Ltd and West Midlands Combined Authority attended the gathering.

The round table discussion enabled participants to explore two key rewarding student pathways, namely:
Accessible Apprenticeships – which are designed to provide work and career opportunities for individuals with disabilities, or learning needs to access and benefit from rewarding careers through apprenticeship programs. These work-based study programmes aim to remove barriers and provide reasonable adjustments to support disabled apprentices throughout their training and development.

Supported Internships – which provide a vital bridge for individuals with disabilities or additional needs to transition from education to meaningful employment. These programs offer tailored work experiences within supportive environments, enabling participants to gain invaluable skills and confidence.

The main aims of the event were to:

  • Further develop and raise awareness of Supported Internships and Accessible Apprenticeship opportunities with employers and stakeholders across the region.
  • Provide more work-related experience and career opportunities for young people and adults, with learning and physical disabilities.
  • Develop BMet’s support packages and approach based on the insight shared.
  • Facilitate wider community engagement acting as a facilitator to support employers to engage with Special Needs Schools and vice-versa.

Suzie Branch-Haddow, Vice Principal – External Development at BMet said:  

“The event was a fantastic opportunity for likeminded businesses, colleges and special schools across the West Midlands to work together to support those with disabilities to access and stay in work.

“According to a recent Mencap report, 86% of unemployed people with a disability want a paid job and part of the support to help adults into work starts with how we can help young people access work experience opportunities.”

The packed agenda included a talk from Callum Cook at The Department for Education, who discussed the vision for the future of inclusive work-based programmes.

In addition, to coincide with the roundtable meeting, a new Sensory Room Suite at Matthew Boulton College was also officially opened by one of BMet’s students who is on a supported internship at the college. 

The suite has been specially designed to meet the sensory needs of students who require temporary respite in a calm and relaxed environment. Further sensory suites will also be created at BMet’s James Watt and Sutton Coldfield College sites.

The successful event was a chance for fellow employers across the West Midlands to not only discuss opportunities to meet the support needs of students, but it was a chance for networking and collaborative working.

Vicky Docker, Director at Empowered Change, said:

“Coming to this event was invaluable, as I feel that equipping young people with the right skills to work effectively and make an impact, despite their support needs, is fundamental and it is mutually rewarding to invest in them.

“I am pleased that so many employers are on board to provide opportunities, and the event was very informative, and it is reassuring to know that BMet would also support us along the way, for example with their toolkit!”

Karl Johnson, Social Value and Stakeholder Manager at Johnsisk and Son Construction, said:  

“It was great to come today and learn how it is possible to support students who require additional support to develop invaluable employability skills.”

“Incorporating apprenticeships and internships into businesses is a huge step towards equality and diversity. Furthermore, viewing students as individuals is important and gives wealth to a variety of employment opportunities – which are beneficial for both students and businesses.”

To find out more about BMet’s employer partnerships, please visit our website. You can also find information about our inclusive support services here.

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