Tips for Employers on Being Disability Inclusive in Apprenticeships
In March 2021, AHEAD and FIT embarked on a ‘Shared learning experience’. FIT approached AHEAD to build on previous in-house activities, exploring ways to increase access and inclusion to the workplace by enabling people with disabilities to gain a foothold in employment via a tech apprentice pathway.
This engagement’s key goal was for:
- FIT to support AHEAD to better understand apprenticeship model and explore where barriers may exist for participation by people with disabilities.
- AHEAD to support FIT to identify and reduce barriers in application on onboarding processes into the forementioned tech apprenticeship programmes and explore opportunities for embedding inclusive practice.
Outcome: This tips booklet was developed by AHEAD to support employers engaged in apprentice onboarding activity to understand better how they can support apprentices with disabilities and disabled employees more generally.
Who is it for? All employers who wish to develop a deeper understanding of supporting employees and prospective employees with disabilities.
What does the booklet cover? It provides employers with an understanding of key facts about disability, highlights potential barriers to recruitment and success for disabled people, and provides clear tips to support your organisation to boost your accessibility and inclusion practices.
My name is Conor and I am currently taking part in the software development apprenticeship with FIT. Shortly before starting the apprenticeship, I was diagnosed with ADHD and was still getting to grips with the diagnosis and treatment plan when I reached out to FIT to explore possible reasonable accommodations. Very quickly a thorough needs assessment took place and reasonable accommodations for both off the job and on the job training were apparent.
For off the job training, the reasonable accommodations that were available to me were extra time for assessment and a room with reduced capacity for any exams. While not all these accommodations have been used, it has given me peace of mind to know they are available to me when needed. For the on-the-job training part of the program, a quiet place to work by myself and regular mentor meetings were the accommodations to assist in the workplace.
As my diagnosis is new, I have not had to ask for reasonable accommodations in previous jobs, however I would note it has been an extremely easy process that has been handled by FIT with the upmost compassion and confidentiality. I was particularly anxious about disclosing my diagnosis but FIT went above and beyond to understand my needs in a non-judgmental fashion.
For me, the main benefit of taking part in the apprenticeship as someone who requires reasonable accommodations is the engagement from FIT. They have gone further than was required and have assisted not only with the reasonable accommodations, but also with regular meetings to help me with organisation and planning.
As someone who has struggled with applying myself to learning in the past, the help offered by FIT has really helped me to unlock potential I didn’t know I had and has encouraged confidence in my ability to succeed.
For employers who are taking on apprentices with additional needs, I would encourage them to engage in strong communication with FIT so that needs can be properly understood. From my own experience, the most helpful part of disclosing my situation and asking for accommodations is knowing that there is help there if needed. While I haven not always had to use the accommodations available to me, it is reassuring to know they are available to me if I am struggling at any stage. My personal information has always been handled with the greatest care and I think this is another important factor for employers to consider when taking on apprentices with additional needs. It has been of great peace of mind to me to know my personal information hasn’t been shared with anyone without my consent.