Disability Action supports disabled people on the Apprenticeship NI programme and in our experience employing an apprentice with a disability is positive for both the Employer and Apprentice.

If you've read our case studies this week highlighting the achievements of some of our disabled apprentices - you'll know that these myths aren't true.

#1 Myth: Disabled people won’t have the qualifications or skills for the job

Busted! Disabled people have a broad range qualifications, skills and experience to make a valuable contribution to any employer in all sectors and roles. Disabled people also often have to use problem solving and critical thinking in their day-to-day life, far more than someone who has not got a disability - skills welcomed by any employer.

Case Study example: ‘Stephen’ who, with support from our Job Match programme, is at BSA studying for a Level 3 Electrotechnical qualification while working for IceMOS as an Apprentice Technician.  Stephen’s Manager at IceMOS says:

Stephen has surprised us with his level of IT skills: installation, upgrades and repairs - providing great support and working closely with our IT team.


#2 Myth: Disabled employees are more likely to take time off work

Busted! There is no evidence that tells us that disabled people are more likely to miss work. Statistics actually show that there is no difference in sick leave from employees with disabilities and those without. Studies have shown that many employers find that disabled Apprentices are often extremely loyal to their organisation with consistently high levels of attendance and time keeping and who perform comparably to their peers without disabilities.

Case Study example: Apprentice Technician ‘Stephen’ who is working for IceMOS busts this myth. Stephen’s Manager at IceMOS says:

Stephen has provided excellent support to our Technicians/Engineers. His work is always of a high standard… with perfect timekeeping.


#3 Myth: Accommodating disabled workers is very expensive

Busted! Contrary to popular belief, many Apprentices may only require minimal support to help them adjust to the working environment. Reasonable adjustments can be as easy as changing break times to suit the individual’s needs, moving workstations to make them more accessible and comfortable for the individual or allocating tasks differently for individuals to better cope with their workloads. Most reasonable adjustments cost nothing or very little and the emphasis is on the word ‘reasonable’ and what is reasonable can depend on the size of the business. Employers can also access financial support for more costly adjustments e.g. Access to Work.

Case Study example: Apprentice Technician Stephen - The reasonable adjustments he required had no associated cost and included establishing a trusted colleague he could report to with work-related queries, and a basic level of autism awareness amongst his colleagues.  

#4 Myth: Disabled workers need higher levels of training and supervision

Busted! All new workers, whether disabled or not, take some time to learn and adapt to job responsibilities and disabled Apprentices do not take any longer to meet the job requirements than those without disabilities.

Case Study example: Bob from Bob Mullan Motors who employs Shane as an Apprentice says:

Throughout Shane’s time in training he always shows a willingness to learn, works as part of a team, uses his initiative and is reliable.


#5 Myth: Disabled workers do not match non-disabled workers in terms of performance

Busted! Disabled employees and apprentices are accountable to the same job standards as non-disabled employees. In fact, studies have shown that disabled people perform comparably to their peers without disabilities and that in many cases disabled people perform above expectations. These attributes are extremely desirable for any employer.

Case Study example: Lisa & Owen McWilliams of McWilliams Joinery employ Gerard as an Apprentice Joiner and are very proud of Gerard’s achievements:

Gerard’s honesty, upbeat personality, eagerness to learn and overall work ethic is second to none.  We and all the joiners are very grateful for Gerard’s contribution on all our jobs.  Gerard is on the road to becoming a fine joiner and is well capable of achieving any goal he sets his mind to.  He is an asset to our company.

Experience and evidence therefore suggest that employing a Disabled Apprentice will be an asset to any business and help to develop new and innovative ideas, products and services, as well as promoting your brand as an employer of choice through investing in a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Maybe you're now considering taking on a disabled apprentice to help your business work better. If you'd like more information contact:

Anne Reid, Job Match Manager (Interim), Mobile: 07767 112291 E-mail: [email protected].

Strengthen & Grow your team with an Apprentice!