Being disabled should never limit your options and career, which is why apprenticeships are a great way to get into your chosen field
When it comes to choosing a career, apprenticeships can be a great first step into your chosen industry. They allow more flexibility and the ability to earn a wage while learning first-hand. An apprenticeship gives you a mixture of higher education and gaining experience in your chosen field, covering all sorts of industries, from construction to hair and beauty.
An apprenticeship is a wonderful opportunity to expand your knowledge, develop new skills and get used to a workplace environment. Throughout your training, you will receive guidance and support from your colleagues and mentor, who will look after you during the programme. You will also be studying alongside your work, which could take place at a local college, with an independent training provider or online.
At the end of your training, you will leave with a nationally recognised qualification and the experience to start working. Future employers will be impressed by your CV as an apprenticeship shows that you’re a hardworking candidate.
There are also part-time options available, which might work better for disabled candidates as you will have more flexibility with your time. However, that means your apprenticeship will last longer to ensure you have enough time to complete the training.
Currently, the minimum wage for an apprentice aged between 16 and 18 is £5.28, while apprentices aged 19 or over in their first year are also on this same rate. Anyone aged 19 or over who has completed their first year is then entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age group, which starts at £7.49 for people aged between 18 and 20.
This February, employers and education providers will put the spotlight on the programmes they have available during National Apprenticeship Week. Taking place from 5-11 February 2024, this will provide new information and resources on apprenticeships and vocational education.
Throughout the UK, the levels of apprenticeships and what is on offer varies depending on location. In England, there are four levels: Intermediate, Advanced, Higher and Degree Apprenticeships whilst in Scotland, there are Foundation, Modern and Graduate apprenticeships.
Intermediate Apprenticeships are equivalent to GCSE standard; Advanced Apprenticeships are equivalent to two A-level passes; Higher Apprenticeships are equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate or foundation degree; and Degree Apprenticeships are equivalent to undergraduate or master’s degree. The Apprentice Support Centre in England has a dedicated team who can answer any questions and help anyone with a disability throughout the application process
Foundation Apprenticeships are available in the 5th and 6th year of secondary school but are not paid; Modern Apprenticeships are paid positions where you’ll leave with industry-recognised credentials; and Graduate Apprenticeships allow you to earn a degree and work simultaneously.
It’s important to think carefully about what type of apprenticeship you’d like to apply for, as they are all very different from each other. Similarly to The Apprentice Support Centre in England, Apprenticeships.scot can give similar advice in Scotland.
Under the Equality Act 2010, your employer, university or training provider has a duty to provide you with reasonable adjustments if you ask for them.
Your reasonable adjustments could be asking for extra time during an exam, a designated parking space, or flexible learning hours. Everyone is different, and your individual needs will vary from the next person, but Disability Rights UK has a reasonable adjustment form that can give you an idea of the type of things you are entitled to ask for if required.
To get any reasonable adjustments, you must ensure your employers are aware of your disability and that you ask for what you need, as they will not be put in place automatically.
Similarly, disabled people undertaking an apprenticeship can use the UK Government’s Access to Work scheme. This can mean a grant to help pay for practical support within your role, transport getting to and from work, or support from management regarding your mental health at work.
HOW TO APPLY
To apply for an apprenticeship, you will need a CV and a cover letter. The National Careers Service has a team of expert advisors who can help you write a CV and support you throughout the application process. Your CV is your chance to show an employer why they should select you over another candidate, so check it twice before you submit it.
After you’re happy with your CV, you can look and apply for roles on the Find an Apprenticeship Service in England. The website has a feature which allows you to filter out any employers who are not disability confident.
In Scotland, Apprenticeships Scot has an up-to-date database of current vacancies that will redirect you to company sites to apply.
Take the time to look into any apprenticeships before you send off your application so that you can be confident they will be the right fit for you and your needs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
You can find out more about apprenticeships in the UK by visiting the UCAS hub.