Deaf school leavers and students who are struggling to achieve enough qualifications now have better access to apprenticeships for the first time thanks to changes which the government has recently unveiled.
Previously, all apprentices, Deaf or hearing, had to pass the functional English school test to enrol on vocational courses. Now Deaf students who can’t take the test, or who fail it, have the chance to use British Sign Language (BSL) instead. The changes come into place this April.
Skills Minister Robert Halfon said: “This will enable more people with disadvantages to find a foothold in the world of work. For those whose first language is BSL, this simple change will allow them to achieve their full potential.
“I want to break down barriers so people of all ages and backgrounds get the opportunity of an apprenticeship.”
More than 1,000 Deaf young people in the UK aged under 25 are currently enrolled each year on the government’s apprenticeship scheme. But many people have been calling for a long time for those with various disabilities to be accommodated.
At cSeeker, we join organisations such as the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) and others in broadly welcoming these latest changes from the government, which we all see as a positive step and a move in the right direction.
Already, we have helped with vocational training, for example we gave a placement to admin apprentice Sian Stait, pictured, above, on her last day, who was with us in our central Birmingham offices for eight months. Sian, who is hard of hearing, uses a Baha (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid), and has other disabilities, did a great job helping us with admin, client emails, databases and research tasks. Her placement was organised through her college, Queen Alexandra in Birmingham.
But we are keen to help others as well. And we are always happy to discuss providing apprenticeships, especially in the areas of bookkeeping, admin or marketing – so do talk to us.
If you’re Deaf and in an apprenticeship or considering one, or a provider of apprenticeship training, talk to us. We can help ensure you get the quality of communication support you need.