Work Placement Skills

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Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities

Briefing on work placements and the importance of their inclusion in the DDA part 2

It is important to distinguish between different kinds of work placements. Skill would welcome clarification as to which placements will be covered by the amendments to the DDA part 2. Skill has put together this briefing on different types of learning that may include work placements. The examples used are not actual case studies, but reflect the concerns that Skill is aware of, and include situations of which we have been informed.

1Work based learning
Work based learning organisations often deliver a large amount of training in the workplace. In a majority of instances trainees are on a Modern Apprenticeship programme and as such are paid as employees therefore are covered under part 2 of the DDA. However, in a substantial minority of cases, trainees are on other programmes where they are taught at a work based training organisation but spend a substantial amount of time on ‘placement’. Skill would presume that these trainees would come under Part 2 under the new regulations. It is certainly essential they do as so much of their programme is delivered in the work place.

Tanya is on an office skills course run by a work based learning organisation. Some of her training takes place at the work based learning organisation but Tanya has to attend two substantial work placements. Tanya is a wheelchair user and dyslexic. Some of the adjustments she requires in relation to physical access are that furniture is arranged in a way which allows her free access in her wheelchair and a desk which a wheelchair can fit underneath. In terms of her dyslexia she works best when files etc. are very clearly marked, for example with colour coding. She works much better when using a computer than when having to write down things by hand.

Her tutors have visited her work placement with her and can support her with many of the adjustments. However, if they are to be fully implemented they require the active support of her employer and other staff. The employer is clearly disturbed at the fact that Tanya requires these adjustments and mutters that he knows he has duties to his disabled employers but this does not extend to trainees who are merely on work placement.

2Further education

Increasingly more and more further education students are going on work placements. In some instances these are students on a vocational NVQ programme.

Justine, who is partially sighted, is on an NVQ training course in catering at a further education college. The theoretical and some of the practical parts of the course take place at college but students also have to spend blocks of time in different work places. Two of Justine’s work placements are very accommodating. However the third, a restaurant kitchen, behave in a very unfriendly way. They refuse to print out any recipes in large print saying that this ‘is not their job’ which means that Justine finds it very difficult to carry out her assignments. In the second week they ring up the college and demand that she is removed from the kitchen because they believe that her visual impairment poses a health and safety risk. Her tutor arranges for her to do double time at one of her other placements but this is not ideal as it means that she has a narrower range of experiences than other students on the course.

In other cases they are students on an academic programme such as A levels where the work placement is not directly related to their course but is very important in giving them an understanding of how the workplace works and what they might like to do in the future.

In some instances they might be students on a more general programme (for example an Entry Level course or a programme for people with learning difficulties). In these cases the purpose of the work placement is to extend their experiences, give them an understanding of the...
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