Apprentices: Autism:Written question - 208304

(Bristol West)
Asked on: 14 January 2019
Department for Education
Apprentices: Autism
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help employers to ensure that apprenticeships provide an effective route into permanent employment for adults diagnosed with autism.
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 21 January 2019

We are improving access to apprenticeships for people with learning difficulties or disabilities. For example, we have introduced legislation which allows the minimum English and maths requirements for apprenticeships to be adjusted to entry level 3 for a defined group of people with a learning difficulty or disability. This change will allow more people to benefit from the opportunities available through apprenticeships and work.

Our Pacesetter project is working with local partners to test our policy approaches and deliver tangible progress towards growing numbers of apprentices with learning difficulties or disabilities. Pacesetters include councils, a school and the learning disability charity Mencap, who have themselves hired a number of apprentices with learning difficulties or disabilities.

The Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network has been developed to provide insight and guidance on best practice in how to make sure that apprenticeships are undertaken by people from a diverse range of backgrounds, and all members make a commitment themselves to increasing diversity when they join. The network aims to inspire and influence the behaviour of other employers to attract, recruit and support more people from underrepresented groups into apprenticeships. This includes people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBT+, women in science, technology, engineering and maths and members of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. For example, Health Education England, working with members including Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, have a supported apprenticeship scheme focussing particularly on learners with autism. The National Autistic Society has been invited to attend the network’s next meeting.

Our funding system is intended to encourage the take-up and likely completion of apprenticeships by particular groups, including people with learning difficulties or disabilities. The system is also intended to recognise where additional support is necessary, through extra funding where the costs of supporting an apprentice are higher, and making sure that these costs are met by government and not by the employer.

Our communications and guidance products aim to encourage employers to hire apprentices with a learning difficulty or disability and to demonstrate to people with learning difficulties or disabilities, such as autism, that apprenticeships are an option for them.

We have integrated the Department for Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident campaign into the apprenticeship recruitment service so that the Disability Confident logo is displayed on apprenticeship vacancies for campaign-registered employers.

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