Facilitator: Jane Ring, Parent Support Officer LOOK UK
Featuring: Jess Clements, Apprenticeship Co-Ordinator at Blind in Business, LOOK UK mentors Liam and Amber who both took an apprenticeship route to work and Uzma who is a Business Self Starter.
Our Parent Support Group in March looked at Building Life Skills for Work.
This discussion was for parents and carers who feel their children are going to follow a non-university pathway to work.
We wanted to show that there are many different opportunities available to our young people and to hear positive stories from those who have successfully entered the workforce.
Our panel included Jess Clements, Apprenticeship Co-Ordinator at Blind in Business. Jess talks about how Blind in Business helped with her confidence and how she was encouraged not to allow her VI to define her.
She also discusses the importance of tech and mobility and the huge range of industries that Blind in Business has links to and how the Access to Work scheme can help you in many different roles.
LOOK mentors Liam, Amber and Uzma also joined us on the panel to talk about their employment routes.
Liam is a Compliance Co-ordinator at Essex County Council and found his job through their apprenticeship scheme.
Amber has had a number of jobs in the NHS and is currently a ward Occupational Therapist Assistant. She got her first job through the NHS apprenticeship scheme and has worked in a number of different roles before settling on OT.
Uzma is self-employed and runs her own treatment salon. She tried a number of different vocational pathways (retail, hair and make-up and complementary therapies) before deciding to set up her own business. She has successfully adapted this to suit her own access needs.
You can watch the original session, here:
“I just feel so encouraged by this session- I have so much more hope about the future for my son now. I realise how important independence and mobility are too. Thanks so much, everyone.” Parent.
Top Tips from the panellists
Jess from Blind in Business:
- Don’t let your visual impairment define you. Get into the habit of problem-solving for yourself.
- If you are interested in a role with an employer who is not listed as Disability Confident, don’t let that put you off. Blind in Business can help facilitate conversations with employers who are not listed.
- Access to Work can be used for apprenticeship schemes too.
- Assistive tech is the most important tool when entering the mainstream workforce.
- Having good mobility skills and independence is also crucial for entering the workplace.
- There are companies that can re-write an organisation’s software to make it more accessible, this is called ‘scripting’.
- Work experience is a really good way to try out a job and see if you like it. Work shadowing can give you great feedback and if there are questions around accessibility, there are normally ways around it.
- Start thinking about work experience at an early age. This web page will help with advice and suggestions – Click Here.
“One of the main areas that I want to hit on and would really like you to take away from today, is assistive tech. Assistive tech allows VI professionals to integrate into the mainstream workplace. Braille is great for your personal use but more and more of what we are seeing is that assistive tech lets young people succeed and that’s regardless of whether you want to go down an academic route, internship or apprenticeship pathway.“
Liam – Followed an apprenticeship route to becoming a Compliance Co-ordinator for Essex County Council.
- Check the National Apprenticeship website for current positions. You can also tick a box that allows you to search for Disability Confident employers.
- Brush up on your mobility skills so you can search for positions further afield and your choices aren’t limited.
- The RNIB can help with interview skills.
- If you choose to disclose your VI, try to discuss it in positive terms, eg advise your employer that they can apply for financial help to make adjustments in the workplace.
- You can always take up a university place once you have completed your apprenticeship.
“My biggest issue was the travel, I would apply for something online but was limited by [how far] I wanted to go. I knew about Access to Work but I was determined to be as independent as possible, in terms of getting on a bus with everyone else. I was a stubborn 19-year-old! I kind of regret that a bit now and wish I had widened my scope when looking for work and taken Access to Work into consideration.”
Amber – Followed an apprenticeship route to coming an Occupational Therapist Assistant in the NHS.
- The NHS can provide many different pathways into work, including apprenticeships.
- Apprenticeships are great for learning the role on the job!
- Keep thinking of ways that you can upskill yourself.
Uzma – Followed a vocational training route in retail and beauty before setting up her own beauty business.
- If you are a parent of a VI child who wants to set up their own business, encourage them to look into this option. It is possible to do!
- If you’re planning to start your own business, having a five-year plan is crucial for setting out your business intentions and vision for the future.
- Handling money can be a bit tricky but there is tech out there that can help you.
- Gaining independence skills and mobility skills is so important for work. You may need to learn a new environment for your work so encourage young people to use their cane if they have one.
- Keep setting yourself goals and challenging yourself.
For links to the websites referenced in this workshop please click below.