If we were to say to you that people’s brains work in many different ways, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Neurodiversity is a word used to describe the differences in people’s thinking styles that affect how they communicate with the world around them. It is an umbrella term for conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Tourette’s. As a concept, it helps us to see this difference as a natural part of humanity and moves us away from stigmatising differences.
Neurodivergent individuals often display out-of-the-box thinking, creative solutions and deep focus that can bring huge strengths to their workplace.
Neurodiversity and apprenticeships
Around 1 in 4 apprentices may be neurodivergent, and it’s important to recognise that every person has both strengths and challenges. However, Neurodivergent people tend to have greater peaks of talents in some areas and dips in others, with a greater variance in those peaks and dips, this is known as having a ‘spiky profile’.
The aim of an apprenticeship is to maximise the strengths. The areas of challenge may relate to the person’s cognitive diversity and/or can be affected by the setting they are working in, or related to home factors, or combinations of all of the above. Each person’s story will be different and each person’s support needs are unique.
Many agree that people with a learning disability or learning difficulty should qualify for adjusted minimum standards based on a cognitive assessment rather than evidence of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO City & Guilds, which offers vocational qualifications, says; “Apprenticeships are becoming more important at a time when skills are short.” She goes on to say: “In the face of low unemployment and immigration from the EU, and high levels of economic activity, apprenticeships will be a crucial way for essential industries to train and recruit the homegrown talent they need to fill these skills shortages.”
“As the Government looks to ‘level up’ the country, the value of apprenticeships must not be overlooked. We need adequate investment for improving apprenticeships and their take up, to help tackle the mismatch between the supply and demand of talent.”
The benefits of apprenticeships for neurodivergent learners
Apprenticeships can provide a great opportunity for neurodiverse people to gain valuable skills and practical work experience in a supportive environment. Ways in which apprenticeships can specifically benefit neurodiverse individuals include:
Individualised support and the ability to accommodate the learners’ needs – Apprenticeships are designed to provide individualised support to each person, and this can be especially beneficial for neurodiverse individuals. Employers can work with apprentices to identify any specific requirements or support needed for them to be successful, such as flexible scheduling or specialised training.
Apprenticeships offer hands-on learning – many neurodiverse individuals benefit from hands-on learning, by providing on-the-job training, apprenticeships allow individuals to learn in a practical and engaging way.
Career exploration – Apprenticeships can also provide the opportunity for individuals to explore different career paths and find the right fit for them. This is especially important for neurodiverse individuals who may have unique strengths and interests that can be leveraged in certain careers.
Training providers have the ability to draw down Learning Support Funding from the ESFA to help them work more flexibly, supporting the identified needs of the learner, better enabling the learner to achieve their learning goals.
Overall, apprenticeships can be a great way for neurodiverse individuals to gain practical skills, build confidence, and explore different career paths in a supportive environment.
How CogniSoft can help
CogniSoft have supported the skills and employability sectors for over 35 years, specialising in Client-Tracking, Case & Learner Management Systems. Our YETI Infinity software can help Training Providers in three areas. For tutors, we provide the ability to track and record learner progress against their qualification journey towards EPA; for MI Officers, YETI Infinity retains the core YETI product: a best-in-class Management Information System over 30 years in the making, and we support learners by enabling them to check in with tutors and review their progress with an easy-to-use portal, dedicated to keeping them in the loop.