Shaw Trust, a charity helping to transform the lives of young people and adults across the UK and internationally, has welcomed the Welsh Government’s Inclusive Apprenticeship Action Plan saying it will benefit the Welsh economy, business and the nation as whole.
The action plan is designed to increase apprenticeship opportunities for disabled people in Wales. It is linked to other government policies on employment and the economy, as part of a joined-up plan to get Wales working.
The plan has been created by a working group which included Shaw Trust as well as other specialist disability organisations in Wales. The working group highlighted several key areas for increasing uptake of apprenticeships by disabled people including role models, marketing and raising awareness, disclosure and support for employers and providers.
Maria Thomas, Shaw Trust Director of Partnerships Wales, who sat on the working group said:
“I was delighted to be invited to sit on the working group to increase apprenticeship opportunities for disabled people in Wales. We have looked at the barriers faced from all sides – those who could complete an apprenticeship, providers and employers and what we have recommended will help to remove those obstacles. Making apprenticeships more widely available will benefit the economy through increased productivity. Businesses benefit from gaining valuable members of staff, trained their way. We also know that employing disabled people helps businesses create a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers it serves and the community in which it is based. In addition, skills such as the ability to use British Sign Language can be brought into the business. Individual apprentices benefit through learning skills, obtain industry and sector specific recognised qualifications as well as the other advantages that come with being employed, such as increasing their social networks. Overall Wales benefits from making apprenticeships more accessible. This plan will be pivotal for the Welsh Government in achieving the aspirations laid out in its strategies ‘Prosperity for All’ and the ‘Employability Plan’.”
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan, said:
“There are not enough disabled people in work. In Wales, just 45% of working-age disabled people are currently in employment, compared to 80% of those who are not disabled. This is not acceptable. It is something I want to see change.”
“This isn’t a purely altruistic process. Employing diverse work groups can create better solutions to business challenges, increase productivity, and encourage creativity. Having a work force that reflects a company’s customer base means they can better understand their needs and issues that affect them.
“Apprenticeships are a proven route into sustainable employment and I am proud that we have a successful Apprenticeship Programme here in Wales. However, the makeup of the apprentice cohort is far from representative of the diverse society in which we live. Encouraging disabled people to apply for apprenticeships and making sure potential employers are aware of the support that is available is vital in changing this. This is the aim of our Inclusive Apprenticeships Action Plan.”