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International Day of People with Disabilities – access to apprenticeships

On Tuesday 3 December, it’s International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD) – established by the United Nations to identify and address discrimination, exclusion and inaccessibility that many people living with a disability face.

With more disabled students choosing to study with The Open University than any other UK university, championing accessibility for all is a cause that is close to our heart. The OU’s recent report, Access to Apprenticeships explored the availability of apprenticeships for people with a declared disability. The major survey of over 700 large and small employers across England, found that two in three employers were prioritising hiring apprentices with a disability, and over a third have started to proactively recruit disabled individuals over the past three years.

The OU is a leading provider of higher and degree apprenticeships and in 2017/18 (the latest figures available), the OU was the second largest HEI provider of higher and degree apprenticeships in England, working with over 400 employers. Laney is an excellent example of how employers and providers are working in partnership to deliver successful programmes.

Laney works for Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides a wide range of NHS services to people with mental health and learning disability needs in Devon, the wider South West region and nationally.

Laney has cerebral palsy, worked as a support worker at the Trust and was given the opportunity to start The Open University (OU) Higher Apprenticeship in Health (Assistant Practitioner). She is now close to completing the programme and awaiting her End Point Assessment. During the programme, Laney has been promoted to the role of Assistant Practitioner (Mental Health).

“I’ve always worked in healthcare,” explained Laney. “Having cerebral palsy myself, I wanted to help other people, but from a different perspective.

“My condition varies from day-to-day. Some days I wake up and I can’t move and other days I’ll feel differently. There is also a mental health side to living with cerebral palsy.

“I sometimes find it difficult to talk about how I’m feeling over the phone so I’ve built up a relationship with my Open University tutors where I am able to email and explain how things are going. Face-to-face and telephone contact is also available, but I find email works best for me and that communication has developed over time. It’s really helpful and the support I’ve received from the OU has been fantastic.”

To read the full interview, please visit:

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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