The Open University’s new report, ‘Access to Apprenticeships‘ released today (26 Sept), has found that, while two thirds of employers consider hiring candidates with disabilities for entry-level roles is an important priority for them, many feel ‘unequipped’ to do so – with financial barriers and lack of training meaning they aren’t able to offer the correct provisions for disabled workers.
The Open University is calling on the UK Government to help businesses further attract and recruit more disabled apprentices through its apprenticeship programmes.
The call comes following the Department for Education’s latest apprenticeships starts data, which shows the number of people starting apprenticeships in England with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is at 12.3%, and a major survey of over 700 employers in England which shows employers feel ‘unequipped’ to provide equal opportunities to people with declared disabilities.
“The 5% Club is delighted to be supporting The Open University, now in its 50th year, with this important report. We have no doubt that this is a positive contribution to the debate and will spark further interest amongst relevant stakeholders, including charities, employers, providers and the UK Government.” Lady Cobham and Gill Cronin, The 5% Club.
Close to half of organisations (47%) believe their companies could do with more internal support to help apprentices or entry-level graduates with declared disabilities.
The survey forms part of the OU’s new ‘Access to Apprenticeships’ report. Key decision makers showed that whilst over a third of employers surveyed (38%) had proactively recruited individuals with disabilities over the past three years, many want further assistance in doing so, and more information on how to support the apprentice.
The survey unearthed a widespread lack of understanding of the support available to assist the recruitment of apprentices and graduates with declared disabilities. Almost a quarter of employers (24%) face challenges in financing the additional support required to train and develop individuals with a disability and over a quarter of decision makers (29%) report they don’t have the training to enable them to better support employees with declared disabilities.
There is widespread recognition about the benefits of a diverse workforce and the importance of providing training opportunities for people with declared disabilities.
To help increase the number of apprentices with declared disabilities, The Open University has published four recommendations for the UK Government to ensure that government, training providers and employers can work better together to support, recruit and retain more apprentices with disabilities.