Leading employers prove disabled Apprentices boost business

29 May 2014

To help more disabled people gain access to Apprenticeships and to help employers gain access to skilled and dedicated workers, a new online toolkit has been launched today by NIACE.

The Employer Toolkit was developed through consultation with a number of employers – including Barclays Bank, Tottenham Hotspur FC, The National Theatre, Novartis PLC, Leicester City Council and Luton and Dunstable Hospital – who have hired disabled Apprentices who are making a key contribution to their workplace.

Commissioned by the Skills Funding Agency, the toolkit demonstrates the simple and cost-effective actions that employers can take, including around recruitment and ongoing support, to make their Apprenticeship programmes open to disabled Apprentices. There are also details of the business benefits that have followed.

There are over 11 million disabled people in Great Britain, of whom nearly six million are of working age. By hiring and supporting disabled people on to their Apprenticeship schemes, employers have found that they are better able to:

  • Extend the pool of high quality applicants available to them
  • Engage with the widest possible consumer base
  • Have a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers they serve

Research shows that disabled customers prefer to shop with accessible businesses – 82% of disabled customers in the UK took their business to a more accessible competitor in 2013. Having a disability inclusive workforce can enable employers to tap into the market of 10 million disabled customers in the UK with a combined annual spending power of £80 billion. This, combined with the fact that the average Apprenticeship increases business productivity by £214 per week through increased profits, lower prices and better products, demonstrates that hiring disabled apprentices makes good business sense.

Shan Nelson, Future Talent Programme Lead, Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited, said:

“Novartis UK welcomes the new NIACE employer toolkit that has been designed to encourage and support employers to hire more disabled apprentices. Novartis UK is committed to providing appropriate opportunities to all our disabled associates, and we fully acknowledge the fact that they make a valuable contribution to our business, and our bottom line performance. I recommend that you take some time to explore this helpful resource for yourselves and use the practical information and tips contained within the toolkit to actively assist your organisation to become more ‘Disability Confident’.”

Sue Husband, who has just taken up the role of Executive Director of Apprenticeships at the Skills Funding Agency, said:

“One of my first priorities in my new role is to encourage engagement with employers and employer groups to increase participation in Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

“Disabled apprentices are very much part of the equation, and the Agency commissioned this piece of work because of the value we knew it would offer to employers. We are very pleased with the development of the toolkit, which demonstrates the simple and cost-effective actions that employers can take, both in recruitment and ongoing support, to enable them to open up their apprenticeship programmes to disabled participants with more confidence.”

Carol Taylor, NIACE Deputy Chief Executive for Development and Research, said:

“As enthusiasm for Apprenticeships continues to grow we must do more to help more disabled people gain access to them. We know that many employers often feel worried or even scared about taking on disabled Apprentices. They can be concerned about being able to provide adequate support, about the law and about what adjustments they might need to make. This toolkit will help to raise employers’ ‘Disability Confidence’ – whether they’re an SME like the cabinet-maker quoted in the report, or a major company like Novartis PLC. It also demonstrates how once employers actively embrace increasing their workforce’s diversity, significant business benefits can result.”