We share many of the concerns expressed by Neil Findlay MSP over the number of those young people with disabilities accessing Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) (26th December 2015). This is an issue we have been campaigning on for some time.
Out of 25,000 starters on MA schemes last year, only 103 had a disability, clearly a deeply troubling statistic.
While we note issues around self-declaration, with a paltry 0.41% of MA starts recorded as having a disability, more needs to be done to help these young people as well as those with care experience into employment.
In this respect the goal set by the Scottish Government to ensure MA starts from young people with a disability should equal the population average for 16 to 24 year olds, currently 12.5%, by 2021 is to be greatly welcomed. This is something we previously called for and will be closely monitoring.
Likewise, it is good to see something being done for those with care experience, a quarter of whom become unemployed. Statistics are finally being collected on those taking up MAs and a tailored package of measures is being examined, including greater financial support and giving Training Providers a greater understanding of the needs of these young people.
The rewards of getting these young people, many of whom boast excellent skills, into work are well worth it, with higher loyalty and retention rates often demonstrated.
Having a disability or care experience should never be a barrier to a better working life. If we are to tackle inequality and deliver social justice this group of young people must clearly be a key priority.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:
Tom McGhee, Managing Director, Spark of Genius
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland
Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations