Opportunities opened up by the Apprenticeship Levy could help employers access the wealth of untapped disabled talent in Britain and create greater diversity in UK workplaces, according to a panel of experts.
At a recent roundtable discussion of public and private sector representatives, hosted by the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI), significant benefits were highlighted of workforce diversity – but also the barriers to employment for talented workers with disabilities.
New research from the Disabled Living Foundation uncovered a gap between the number of working disabled people and the number of apprenticeships designated for disabled talent. Just nine per cent of apprentices have a disability, according to the research, compared to 19 per cent of working Britons carrying a disability.
In light of the discussion, Kate Headley, director of the Clear Company and a spokesperson for RIDI, stressed the benefits to employers of better representation at apprentice level.
In a statement following the roundtable’s recommendations, Headley outlined the wider business benefits of workplace diversity and embracing disabled talent.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that people with a disability take less sick days and are more likely to stay with an employer longer than their peers, saving time and money on the costs of recruitment and training by reducing staff turnover,” she said.
Improved guidance for employers on hiring apprentices with disabilities, Headley added, would be vital in breaking down barriers to opportunity.
Key recommendations made by attendees included raising awareness of apprenticeships among those with disabilities, “demystifying” the applications process, and creating a “one-stop-shop” of apprenticeship guidance for disabled individuals.
Headley continued: “Long-term, apprenticeship providers and staffing companies must work together to fill the knowledge gap to boost wider inclusion.
“Meanwhile, organisations which engage with disabled apprentices can create foothold for themselves in the marketplace and establish themselves as a leaders. Together recruiters, employers and training providers can develop a pathway to help everyone succeed.”
Using the Apprenticeship Levy
Under the Apprenticeship Levy, introduced in April 2017, companies with payrolls exceeding £3m pay a 0.5 per cent tax to fund apprenticeships in Britain. Smaller employers are among those able to benefit from the system.
For business owners with fewer than 50 staff, the Apprenticeship Levy will fund all training for 16 to 18 year olds, and 19 to 24 year olds with an Education Health Care (EHC) plan.
All non-levy paying employers will receive an incentive payment of £1,000 for young apprentices and those with EHC plans.
Find out everything smaller employers need to know about the new Apprenticeship Levy
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