Ladder for the Black Country: Disability no bar to a rewarding career

Disability should not be a barrier to a rewarding career, says one of the Black Country Ladder's key backers which is working with employers to ensure that this is the case.

Ladder for the Black Country: Disability no bar to a rewarding career

The Black Country Careers Hub works with 115 schools and colleges across the region, and since September last year it has been working with the region's special schools and pupil referral units to ensure that all young people are able to develop their careers.

And it has been working with DPD , a major supporter of the Black Country Ladder, to deliver special apprenticeships to help people with disabilities or learning difficulties find work.

The Smethwick-based parcel company also provides supported internships and special work-experience placements for people with disabilities and special educational needs to ensure that everybody has a role to play.

DPD, which has a major sorting base in Oldbury, has set itself a goal of having at least one disabled person, including those with learning difficulties and special needs, working in each area of the business 'in a meaningful role that adds value to the individual, DPD and society as a whole'.

To help people find the next step in their careers, the Black Country Skills Factory has employed a dedicated special educational needs and disabilities co-ordinator to help schools improve the opportunities open to pupils with disabilities.

Ladder apprenticeship manager Justine Johnson says the careers hub works closely with employers such as DPD to maximise the opportunities open to the disabled.

"These employers support schools to weave careers into the curriculum, ensuring young people are prepared for the world of work, and guide the skills that they will need in future recruitment," she said.

DPD has created two projects aimed at young people with special needs, ensuring that work experience and skill development were at the heart of the curriculum.

The one campaign, Our Planet Needs You, challenges young people to come up with ideas for how the company can become more environmentally friendly.

The schools or colleges with the three most innovative ideas will receive a cash prize to set up their own sustainability project such as creating their own recycling centre, set up a shop selling home-made produce or create their own vegetable garden.

All the pupils will develop key employability skills along the way and work with DPD employees.

The second project, aimed at pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties, involves youngsters creating a Christmas card design.

The winner will see their design in production with thousands sent to businesses and customers.

Approximately 700 pupils will be involved with these projects, developing skills, working with DPD staff and gaining practical experience.

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