Hello PPMA colleagues and friends

In this week’s blog post, our amazing Apprentice of the Year, Matthew Wallis gives us an update on the work he has been doing on accessible apprenticeships for disabled people. Matthew speaks from very personal experience as he is hearing-impaired. For those of us that know Matthew well, we know that this ‘impairment’ does not make Matthew ‘less-than’ in any way. Caroline Nugent told us that Matthew’s commitment to raising opportunities for disabled apprentices is clear to see and his experience means that his thoughts have real insight and impact.

So over, to Matthew …….

“I would like to give an update on the progress being made by the PPMA to make sure that public sector organisations have the tools they require so that their apprenticeships are as accessible as possible for disabled people. For those of you who haven’t read my previous articles in the PPMA’s focus supplement, I feel very passionate about promoting the benefits of employing more disabled apprentices.

As a former hearing-impaired apprentice, I can say from personal experience that apprenticeships offer disabled people the chance to achieve great things – as long as the support is available to help them reach their potential. For employers, the benefits include the opportunity to shape their workforce to reflect the community served, the introduction of new skills and an increase in the number of high quality apprenticeship candidates.

Of the 7 million disabled people in the UK, 3.4 million are currently out of work. As a result of this, public sector organisations are missing out on the chance to employ talented members of staff. With increasing pressures in the public sector to ensure they recruit and retain the best talent, could providing accessible apprenticeships for people with disabilities, offer the much-needed key for a prosperous future workforce?

I think it can. The government has set an ambitious target of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. As part of this target, there has been an increased focus on the need to encourage and enable many more highly quality disabled candidates to start apprenticeships. There have already been a number of initiatives which aims to tackles this.  This includes:

–       The Apprenticeship Levy, where learning providers can receive additional funding for recruiting disabled apprentices;

–       And the Paul Maynard taskforce recommendations, which was a taskforce commissioned to explore access to apprenticeships for people with learning disabilities.

Despite these efforts, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done, to achieve the governments ambitious goals.

In the past few months, I have been undertaking research and building a case to determine what we can do to help bridge the apprenticeship gap for disabled people. As a result of this research, I provided the PPMA Policy Board an update earlier this month. I made 4 simple, but effective, recommendations which aims to tackle the gap.

  • To produce a number of case studies of disabled apprentices in the public sector
  • To gather statistics regarding disabled apprentices in the public sector
  • To create a standard for an ‘Accessible Apprenticeship’
  • To understand what barriers there may be in recruiting disabled apprentices

These recommendations will help PPMA and our employer organisations identify whether their apprenticeship programmes are as accessible as they could be. In the coming months, I will be working with our networks to try and make sure these recommendations become a reality.

If you know of any disabled apprentice in the public sector who would like to contribute to this project, either as a case study or to give feedback, please encourage them to contact me at [email protected].  Alternatively, if you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions please feel free to contact me or drop me an email.”

Matthew Wallis , PPMA Apprentice of the Year 2017