Supported Employment Modern Apprenticeships

For young people with complex needs, Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) have traditionally been difficult to access.

Where disabled people already face stigma in being selected for jobs by employers, with MAs, they also face a stigma in being selected by a training provider.

That might be because the application process is inaccessible (perhaps a psychometric evaluation or difficult to use website), because they only got a handful of standard grades at school or none at all, or perhaps they have to interview and face the same level of doubt and misunderstanding that disabled people face at every interview.

Between 2017 and 2019, ENABLE Works were pleased to work the Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government in piloting a new model of Modern Apprenticeship, the Supported Employment Modern Apprenticeship.

Supported Employment

Supported Employment is a specific model of employment support, founded in the 1970s in the US and now recognised internationally as the most effective way to ensure someone with a complex disability gains and retains work.

“Modern Apprenticeships are ideally placed for the Supported Employment methodology because they are, essentially, long-term vocational training alongside a paid job.”

Jamie Rutherford

The principle is rather than to sit disabled people on training courses before supporting them into employment without long-term aftercare (‘train and place’), Supported Employment aligns the person’s skills within a job quickly and focuses the resource on supporting that paid employee on site to thrive and sustain the work (‘place and train’).

Modern Apprenticeships are ideally placed for the Supported Employment methodology because they are, essentially, long-term vocational training alongside a paid job.

Help for training providers

ENABLE Works proposal was to form partnerships with the many fantastic Modern Apprenticeship providers and employers across Scotland and support 80 disabled young people into Modern Apprenticeships that are aligned to their skills and ambitions.

ENABLE Works work with around 2000 disabled people every year across the country, so finding young people wasn’t an issue.

We then found appropriate Modern Apprenticeship providers locally who were delivering to the specific frameworks the young person had an interest in – and made the introduction.

We supported the Modern Apprenticeship provider to make their learning and assessment accessible and catered to the young person’s learning style, as well as supporting the employer to make adjustments to the workplace and offering staff training.

Changing lives

It was a real success, none more so than for Hannah Falconer, a 24yr old young woman with cerebral palsy who had struggled to engage with employment since finishing school.

As a participant on ENABLE Works’ All in Edinburgh service, we already knew Hannah was passionate about working with children, so when we met Arcadia Nurseries in Edinburgh it was a match made in heaven.

Arcadia were fantastic in making adjustments and providing a welcoming and professional environment for Hannah, who last year became a qualified childcare practitioner and has a fantastic career ahead of her.

So, if you’re a disabled person wanting to start on a Modern Apprenticeship, or a Modern Apprenticeship provider looking to include more talented disabled people in your training – think Supported Employment and get in touch!

(This blog first appeared on the Skills Development Scotland website)