An education consultant claims the new Government-appointed body overseeing apprenticeships is not standing up for people with learning difficulties.
David Harbourne said the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has been silent on getting more people with learning difficulties onto training programmes.
And the vocational education expert claims the body’s 41-page plan contains no direct reference to apprentices with learning difficulties.
Understanding of priorities
He said: “I just thought you’ve got a brand new organisation that is supposedly going to be responsible for all sorts of aspects of apprenticeship policy.
“And they don’t mention LLDD (learners with learning difficulties or disabilities) once. It makes you wonder about their understanding of the priorities. If you don’t flag it up at the start, when do you?”
Employers at the ‘heart’ of apprenticeships
The Government has said the IfA has “employers at its heart” and the new system gives them more control over the content and assessment of apprenticeships.
But Harbourne believes it places too much power in the hands of employers. Instead, he thinks the Government should have opted for the model used in countries such Switzerland and Austria.
In those countries, government acts as a mediator between employers and trade unions. It ensures that firms take their social responsibility to employ people with challenges seriously.
Voice of the individual
Harbourne added: “There is always someone there to be the voice of the individual to make sure some people’s needs are not forgotten, overlooked or trampled on.
“Where is that in our new employer-led system?”
Autism Eye contacted the Department for Education, which set up the IfA, but it did not respond.
Harbourne said that progress had previously been made, citing statistics showing 9 per cent of new apprentices in 2014/15, or 44,000 people, had learning difficulties.