NIACE is working with Government, employers and providers to support disabled Apprentices

7 March 2014

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.



Melanie Bancroft

March 7th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Whilst I welcome any support for learners with learning disabilities and difficulties the challenge is not always in finding an employer wanting to recruit but in the insistance of level 1/2 functional skills.
Some learners are more than capable of achieving the competence and knowledge based elements of an apprenticeship but, due to their learning difficulty, are unable to achieve English and maths at the required standard.
Until there is a relaxing of this rule LDD learners will continue to be disadvantaged in work and training.

Ian Bond

March 14th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Hi Melanie,

I agree with your point that the requirement for apprentices to reach L1/2 functional skills in English and maths, may prevent some LDD learners from accessing Apprenticeships.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that this requirement is going to realistically change or be relaxed.

The challenge for providers and employers, is to try to maximise the number of LDD learners who are successfully supported to achieve the Level 1/2 in functional skills, and to provide appropriate vocational alternatives for those that will not realistically reach this level of attainment.

I would like to see the development of ‘Intensive Traineeships’ as one element of an approach that might encourage wider participation by LDD learners in Apprenticeships.

What do other colleagues think?

Best wishes,


jayne cunningham

May 20th, 2014 at 11:51 am


One of my level 2 certificate horticulture students who has moderate learning difficulties has an opportunity to get an apprenticeship on a level 2 diploma apprenticeship at Guildford College.

He has a glowing report from work experience over 4 years at Hampton Court garden and has entry level 2 english and entry level 3 maths.

He is working towards entry level 3 english this year but may not pass it before the apprenticeship starts.

Is there any flexibility here as a student with LDD but is hard working and conscientious.

The college is reluctant to allow the student on the course because of the functional skills aspect.

To me, this seems to discriminate against students with LDD, especially one who is working on a level 2 standard in his vocational subject.

He needs to continue to improve his literacy skills which he will do as we can continue to provide support in this area and he also has a private tutor.

He is 20 and already done an entry level, level one horticulture course and is on course to pass his level 2 certificate in horticulture.

Many thanks,

Jayne Cunningham

Lead ALS tutor, Merrist Wood campus, Guildford college