• Learning Disability Week (19-25 June) highlights the low levels of employment among people with a learning disability.
  • Less than 6% of adults with a learning disability known to social services are in paid employment (1).
  • Mencap welcomes Government plans to ensure people with a learning disability have equal opportunities to take up an apprenticeship and employment.

Latest statistics show that there are less than 6% of adults with a learning disability known to social services are in paid employment (1).

People with a learning disability face many barriers when trying to find work, including:

  • complicated application forms
  • negative employer attitudes
  • regimented interview processes
  • lack of on-the-job training and recruitment opportunities.

As part of the Government’s plans to make apprenticeships accessible, Mencap is welcoming plans to change the English and Maths requirements for people with a learning disability who have education, health and care plans. By ensuring people with a learning disability are able to access Apprenticeships, it will provide a route in to work better suited to people with a learning disability where they can demonstrate their skills.

Apprenticeships are a valued route in to employment, but less than 1% of apprentices declared a moderate learning disability in 2014/153. This is despite the fact that young people with a mild or moderate learning disability could and should benefit from an Apprenticeship.

Following a taskforce in 2016, led by Paul Maynard, which examined the issues faced by people with disabilities to access apprenticeships, the government is now pressing ahead to implement all the recommendations.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of learning disability charity Mencap, said:

The introduction of these plans are a welcome recognition from Government that people with a learning disability cannot be left behind when accessing such a vital and valuable route into work as an Apprenticeship.

Lowering the Maths and English requirement for people with a learning disability on Apprenticeships could allow a whole new generation to experience the pride, joy and independence that employment can offer - something that just 5.8% of people with a learning disability currently do.

We want to see the changes apply to all people with a learning disability, not just those with Education, Health and Care Plans, and look forward to working with Government to introduce this.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, said:

People with a learning disability deserve the same opportunities that others have in every aspect of their lives, including in the workplace. Almost 600,000 disabled people have entered work in the last three years, and we must build on this progress.

This week is a chance to celebrate people for their talent and potential, and it’s great that apprenticeships will offer more people with a learning disability a valuable route into employment.


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk

Notes to editors

1. HSCIC (2015) Measures from the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework: England 2014-15, Final Release. www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB18657/meas-from-asc-of-eng-1415-fin-rpt.pdf

2. Paul Maynard taskforce recommendations - www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeships-improving-access-for-people-with-learning-disabilities/paul-maynard-taskforce-recommendations

3. FE data library: equality and diversity - www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fe-data-library-equality-and-diversity

About Mencap

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email helpline@mencap.org.uk.

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.