Apprenticeships: Improving access for people with learning disabilities

The government is committed to halving the disability employment gap by 2020, reveals an independent report. 

Although participation rates for disabled apprentices have improved recently and more disabled people are employed than ever before, employment rates for people with learning disabilities hover around 6.8 per cent and the lifelong costs of economic activity are considerable.
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As a result, in May 2016 a taskforce was commissioned by the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, and the Minister for Skills, Nick Boles MP, to explore access to apprenticeships for those with learning disabilities.
Improving access to apprenticeships will allow more people with learning disabilities to benefit from the opportunities available through apprenticeships and work.
Paul Maynard MP was asked to chair the taskforce, given his interest and expertise in this area. He invited disability organisations, learning providers, employers, parliamentarians and senior officials from both BIS and DWP to join the taskforce.
The taskforce met three times to: reach an understanding of the issues and barriers that affect people with learning disabilities in accessing and completing an apprenticeship. Identify solutions that could help overcome these barriers and raise participation levels and make recommendations to both Ministers on which options to pursue.
In response to the recommendations, David Hughes, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute said: “We’ve long been concerned with the quality of apprenticeships and how access can be improved. 
“I am delighted that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Department for Work and Pensions are working together to make the link between apprenticeship access, the Government’s three million target and the ambition to halve the disability employment gap. 
“English and maths is one of the major areas of focus. The new measures that BIS have announced today, provide LDD learners with flexibilities around English and maths curriculum and assessment to ensure that those that can succeed have the opportunity to do so. 
“We are already working with BIS to support them in taking forward a number of the recommendations by identifying effective non-traditional recruitment practices for LDD apprenticeship applicants, and the use of effective technology. 
“It’s not every day that task forces like this can impact on two major Government policy drivers; halving the employment gap and achieving three million apprenticeship starts. Today we have published proposals on making the new Work and Health Programme work better for people with disabilities. 
“With confidence and ambition from government and the sector, I am optimistic that these reforms will make a marked difference in the life chances of people with health conditions and disabilities and show the world what a truly inclusive labour market and apprenticeships system looks like.”

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