Award shows importance of businesses being disability confident

8 July 2024

Disability training organisations are encouraging more businesses to be confident in employing people with disabilities after receiving a significant industry award.

Minstead Trust and Smart Training & Recruitment work together in Portsmouth and beyond to help people into work, with the latter now celebrating being recognised as a Disability Confident Leader (level three).

Disability Confident is a government initiative designed to encourage employers to recruit and retain disabled people and those with health conditions. Smart Training & Recruitment has been recognised at the highest level as a champion for being disability confident within their local and business communities and encouraging and supporting other businesses to employ people with disabilities.

Together, Minstead Trust and Smart Training & Recruitment are helping dozens of people with learning disabilities into employment. Last year, 15 apprentices and trainees completed their training and began work in roles including chefs, waiters and baristas.

The organisations are working to expand their reach into Bournemouth and Poole this year, helping more people with learning disabilities to find employment.

This is crucial to help tackle the chronically low levels of employment among people with learning disabilities, which is only 4.8% (NHS Digital 2022).

Graduated apprentice Josh, said: ‘I have wanted to be a chef for a while and I started an apprenticeship  in 2022. I helped with the jam and chutney making, but also making hot lunches and sandwiches.

‘I’ve learnt a lot in this job. I’ve learnt basic skills, done my coursework and completed my 18 month apprenticeship with a 30 question exam. I got a distinction for that.

‘I then went for a commis chef position at a local pub, working five days a week, did a trial shift and got the job.

‘I felt happy to get the job – I’ve wanted to be a chef since I was 13. I was pleased with myself, the future’s looking good.’

Chris Hillman, Head of Employability and Apprenticeships at Minstead Trust, said: ‘I am delighted to hear the Smart Training & Recruitment have been awarded Disability Confident Leader Status (Level 3).

‘From our initial discussions to the blossoming partnership we have now, it has been clear that they are passionate about being inclusive and creating opportunities.

‘Our collaboration extends beyond our apprenticeships, they have been a part in our awards process for the people we support, and we are committed to having even more impact together for our trainees.’

Jan Hopkinson, Managing Director of Smart Training & Recruitment Ltd, said: ‘Our journey with Minstead Trust spans over 10 years and, as an independent training provider, this has had a vital impact upon our delivery framework and our approach to disability and inclusivity.

‘I am forever grateful to the team at Minstead Trust for their continued support and commitment to changing lives and enabling Smart to deliver upon the promise of making a positive difference to the lives and future career prospects of their learners.

‘We are all incredibly proud to be recognised as a Level 3 Disability Confident Leader.’

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