Doing an apprenticeship is a great way to earn a salary, get training and qualifications and develop your career. Best of all almost all apprenticeships can be made accessible, so having a disability should not restrict a young person’s choice. Both employers and colleges are able to make reasonable adjustments for disabled young people taking on an apprenticeship.

Chloe Smith first heard about the Employer Engagement Apprenticeship at London Youth while she was a participant on the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) Talent Match London partnership. She was initially apprehensive about applying for the apprenticeship, but her interest in Employer Engagement convinced her to give it a go.

How is your apprenticeship going?

It’s actually going a lot better than what I thought it was going to be. My last role was an apprenticeship, but I had to leave it because the company couldn’t make the adjustments I needed to complete the role. After that experience I was not keen on trying another apprenticeship; however London Youth have been great with making the reasonable adjustments I need for my role. I’m also really enjoying the college aspect of my apprenticeship. I’m doing a Level three Business Administration as part of my apprenticeship. At the moment I haven’t been given much coursework to do, I just go into college on a Friday.

What attracted you to the Employer Engagement Apprenticeship?

I applied for the job because I wanted to work in employer engagement but the apprenticeship appealed to me because I was struggling to find work due to my lack of IT skills. Although I knew I roughly what I wanted to do, I felt that my IT skills and lack of qualifications were holding me back from getting the type of jobs I wanted. The apprenticeship offered me the opportunity to improve on my IT skills, gain a new qualification and work at the same time. I think it’s important to be as qualified as you can and learn as much as you can. There is so much competition to get a job, so anything that you can do to set you apart from other candidates is great. After this apprenticeship I could progress with another apprenticeship and learn more. It’s not compulsory but the option is there. You can progress on to an apprenticeship which is the same level as a university degree.

Would you encourage other young people with disability to apply for an apprenticeship?

Definitely! There is a lot of support out there, so young people with disabilities shouldn’t worry. There is Disabled Student Allowance which I’m in the process of applying for at the moment, which also covers apprenticeships. This means that anything which isn’t covered by Access to Work, such as special software or equipment, you can purchase using your Disabled Student Allowance. You can also get a personal assistant to help you while you are at work. Employers and colleges are legally required to make things accessible for disabled students.