Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Only 267 out of 6,296 apprentices acknowledged as having a disability - McGahan

Published: 17 December, 2014

Sinn Fein MLA Bronwyn McGahan is asking for light to be shed on how well apprenticeship schemes in the North cater for people with disabilities.

Ms McGahans' query comes from the most recent publication of DELs Apprenticeships Statistical Bulletins.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA says,

"The reality for apprentices in this day and age is a world apart from the image of the 16 year old just out of school. Apprentices are not always students, they are workers in industry. They contribute to the economy by paying income tax on their earnings.

"With the current difficulties in the construction and many other sectors, apprenticeships are an important way to gain skills, knowledge and experience, which ultimately can result in employment. Therefore I am asking the question, why out of a total of 6,296 apprentices in the North are only 267 of those individuals acknowledged as having a disability? Bearing in mind the range of disabilities that exist - from mental disability, to a physical disability to a learning disability to a nonphysical disability, how are only 267 people catered for through apprenticeships?

"I further wish to question, why only a minuscule number of 19 out of a total of 346 apprentices in my constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone are classed as disabled? It is likely that there are more people with disabilities accommodated for in a typical secondary school than there are in the apprenticeship industry in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Quite frankly, I cannot see how this is acceptable.

"I would like to know why this is the case. Are people with disabilities being discriminated against by employers and those running apprenticeships or are the apprenticeships not accommodating towards people with disabilities. Perhaps when it comes to nonphysical and mental disabilities, people are not declaring - in which case more work needs to be done around destigmatisation. Either way, I am calling upon the DEL minister to investigate this further, as an overhaul of the apprenticeship scheme in the North may be required." ENDS