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Support for apprentices with a learning difficulty or disability

If you have a learning difficulty or disability there are rights that protect apprentices against discrimination. These rights cover many areas, including employment and education. You’re also protected during the application and interview process by The Equality Act 2010. Learn more about disability rights.

What support can I get?

You can get extra support during your apprenticeship if you have a: 

  • learning difficulty 
  • disability 
  • physical or mental health condition

Your employer and training provider must make reasonable adjustments to help you, so you’re not disadvantaged when doing your job or training. Reasonable adjustments can vary depending on your specific needs, but could include:

  • providing equipment to help with your work 
  • giving you more time to do your work 
  • arranging tasks in a different way 
  • making physical changes to your workplace, for example installing a ramp for wheelchair access 
  • offering employees training opportunities, recreation, and refreshment facilities

Your employer and training provider should review your reasonable adjustments throughout your apprenticeship to make sure you’re getting the support you need. They may also be able to claim financial support towards the reasonable adjustments they make.

How will my needs be assessed?

There’s no set way for your needs to be assessed, but you should have had an initial assessment with your employer and training provider before starting your apprenticeship. They use this to help them:

  • evaluate any learning difficulties or disabilities you have that might impact on your activities or training 
  • decide if you need further assessments to help you get the right support during your apprenticeship 
  • tailor activities to meet your needs, and help you keep to your training plan 
  • consider the support and adjustments you’ll need and talk about them with you 
  • identify the skills, qualifications or experience you have, including English and maths 
  • assess any support you might need with computer-based activities (if applicable)

Any reasonable adjustments your employer and training provider recommend will need to be agreed and signed off by you. You should also tell them if your circumstances change during your apprenticeship.

What funding is available to me?

After you’ve been assessed, your training provider will make any reasonable adjustments that you need. They may also be able to claim financial support towards these adjustments. These are called learning support payments and are paid to your training provider.

Access to Work

Access to Work is a government scheme that offers grants to apprentices to help them pay for any reasonable adjustments they need. You could be eligible for a grant if you have a:

  • disability 
  • health condition 
  • mental health condition

The support you get will depend on your needs. You could get a grant to help pay for things like:

Read more about Access to Work and find out how you can apply for support.

English and maths requirements

You might need a minimum level of English and maths to meet the Gateway criteria for your end-point assessment. For example, a level two intermediate apprentice usually needs level one functional skills English and maths and will take assessments at level two.

Your training provider should talk to you about this in the first eight weeks of your apprenticeship. They’ll also make a learning plan for you to help develop your English and maths skills.

If your learning difficulty or disability means you can’t achieve the usual level of English or maths, you may be able to complete a functional skills qualification instead.

End-point assessment (EPA)

Talk to your training provider about your EPA. They’ll assess you to find out what extra support or adjustments you may need for this. You can find out more in understanding EPAs and preparing for an EPA.

Do I have to tell my employer and training provider?

You don’t have to tell your employer or training provider that you have a learning difficulty or disability, but you won’t get the support you’re entitled to if you don’t tell them. Being open and honest about the support you need could help you and the people you’re working with. Your employer and training provider might ask you to provide them with any relevant medical details.

Further support

You can find more support at the Disabled Apprentice Network (DAN). DAN is free to join and connects current and previous apprentices so they can share their experiences and views on how apprenticeships can be improved.

DAN is hosted by Disability Rights UK, the UK’s leading organisation for disabled people. They provide online guidance for apprentices and work with disabled people’s organisations across the country.


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