National Apprenticeship Week – how can you get involved?

Posted 10/02/2023

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, Unity Works’ Learning and Skills Manager Suzanne Thomson will be taking a deep dive into apprenticeships and why we should do more to embed inclusion, diversity and accessibility. On the final blog of National Apprenticeship Week, we’re looking at ways employers can work with Unity Works to further accessibility in their workplaces.
Effective partnerships with employers and training providers are key. We recognise that starting a conversation about accessibility or adapting existing models can be intimidating, but we want to have the conversation and we are here to help. We have expertise, both as employers, innovators, and people with lived experience that we are keen to share.

We call on employers and training providers to look carefully at their apprenticeship offers and ask yourselves the following:

  • Do we get any disabled applicants or applicants with a learning disability? If not, why not?
  • Can we ringfence opportunities or give first refusal to certain groups? How can we reach these groups so they are aware of opportunities? What will we do if we still don’t get applicants from these groups?
  • Could we have more Level 2 apprenticeships?
  • Do we know what the Maynard recommendations are, or what an EHCP is? Do we know how to apply for Access to Work?
  • Can we introduce a traineeship, pre-apprenticeship programme or work with providers such as Unity Works to set up Supported Internships?
  • How do we recruit, interview and assess? Can we do it more accessibly, and can we give constructive written feedback to applicants, especially where they declare a learning disability and/or are autistic?
  • How do we support our apprentices during and after their time with us?
  • Do we offer regular, high quality and co-produced disability awareness training to all colleagues?
  • Could we benefit from having a conversation or partnership with specialist providers like Unity Works?

To round off this week, we spoke to Pascal and Mike who both work at Unity Works about their time as apprentices:

Pascal – Hospitality Assistant, Cafe Victoria

How did your time as an apprentice help you achieve your goals? Before joining the programme, I was studying catering at college. I was coming to the end of my course and was looking to get real life work experience that included some support. I also knew that I wanted to find a job that wasn’t full time. The programme was a perfect fit for me as it allowed me to develop my skills in a real work environment with the support of my manager and team.

What did you enjoy about your time as an apprentice? I enjoyed learning new skills such as food prep skills. I also enjoyed feeling like I had a proper job and was earning money and becoming more independent. I also enjoyed working events in the evening. This was something new for me and something I really enjoy in my current role.


Mike – Job Broker, Unity Works Employment Team

Would you recommend apprenticeship? Apprenticeships are a fantastic route in terms of starting a career at any age, whilst being guided to the endless opportunities that are out there after gaining your apprenticeship. For me, doing an apprenticeship was a step in the right direction in the terms of building my career and was a huge achievement too. It wasn’t a smooth process at the start, as my colleagues weren’t clear on what support I needed to do my job properly and adjustments were not put in place earlier enough. However, once this was addressed and changes were made, I was able to perform as best as I could. With the mixed experience that I had from my apprenticeship; it was a stepping stone to become more established within recruitment. I have been working in Employment Engagement for 4 years, and last year becoming a Job Broker my biggest role to do date. When you are in the right environment, you can achieve anything you want to give the time and the right level of support”


So we say to employers, we want to help you and we want you to help us open up apprenticeships to people with a learning disability. If this sounds like something you want to get involved in (and we think it should be!) get in touch today! You might even get to have a coffee made for you by Pascal!

Contact Suzanne Thomson, Learning & Skills Manager, at