The Government’s recent Skills Funding Statement 2013-2016 refers to the plan for implementing a consultation on the technical details of the Apprenticeship funding system later this spring.
NIACE is looking forward to playing an active part in supporting this consultation, particularly as it represents an opportunity for potentially introducing additional support for disabled Apprentices. As the Government stated in its July 2013 Consultation on Funding Reform for Apprenticeships in England, “Depending on the characteristics of the employer and the Apprentice, the government may also provide additional payments, where it would be appropriate to make a higher contribution.”
NIACE would welcome the adoption of this approach to encourage more employers and providers to invest in training disabled Apprentices.
Funding is just part of the answer to increasing the number of disabled Apprentices, however. NIACE is working to ensure that employers are fully aware of the support available from across Government to help learners with Learning Disabilities and Difficulties (LDD) access sustainable employment, including Apprenticeships.
Working in partnership with employers and third sector organisations, we are currently developing a new Employer Toolkit that will provide information and guidance on the range of support that is already available to assist employers to hire a disabled Apprentice. The Employer Toolkit will provide case-studies showcasing how existing employers are actively engaging disabled Apprentices, and how they are reaping direct business benefits as a result.
Available both online and in print formats, the new resource will be accessible via the National Apprenticeship Service’s Vacancy Matching service.
Supported by the Skills Funding Agency, the toolkit is designed to help employers quickly access information and guidance on the benefits of hiring a disabled Apprentice. It will contain useful information on how to ensure recruitment and selection processes are encouraging for disabled Apprentices, and will include ‘hints and tips’ designed to assist workplace supervisors and line managers to effectively support a disabled Apprentice in the workplace.
The Toolkit will draw on NIACE’s work with employers such as Barclay’s Bank, Enable Housing Association, Luton and Dunstable University NHS Hospital Trust and TPM, and will give employers the chance to learn from their successful experiences.
NIACE believes that the new funding reforms provide a great opportunity – in partnership with the Government, providers, third sector organisations, employers and Apprentices – to drive a significant increase in the proportion of disabled Apprenticeships, boosting competitiveness and supporting individuals to realise their full potential.