Hundreds of disabled university students are set to benefit from a new ‘passport’ scheme that will support them as they move into work.
The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Access to Work Adjustment Passport is to help ease the transition from university into employment by reducing the need for repeated health assessments.
A pilot scheme, part of the National Disability Strategy, is underway at University of Wolverhampton and Manchester Metropolitan University.
Through Access to Work, disabled people can benefit from grants worth up to £62,900 to cover the cost of specialist equipment needed to support them to do their job.
A passport will be offered to students who already receive extra support while studying at university, capturing information about their condition and the adjustments they already benefit from, avoiding repetitive disclosures when it comes to applying for the grant once they start work.
Up to 100 students at each university will be supported through the trial, and thousands more could benefit if the scheme is rolled out across the country.
Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith:
Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to thrive at work, starting from the moment they take their first steps on the career ladder.
By working with University of Wolverhampton and Manchester Metropolitan University on this trial, we can find the best way to for these new passports to support their students into employment.
Access to Work is a fantastic scheme offering financial support to those people that need extra help. Programmes like this, alongside Disability Confident and the over 100 commitments in our National Disability Strategy, will help us get one million more disabled people in work by 2027.
The Minister was speaking following a visit to Watford Workshop, a charity that uses the Access to Work scheme and has been providing supported employment, work and life skills training to adults with disabilities since 1964.
Dr Iliyan Stefanov, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing at the University of Wolverhampton:
The University of Wolverhampton is delighted to support the introduction of the Adjustments Passport Scheme by undertaking a pilot study with disabled students, potential employers and disability support staff.
We are committed to supporting our students to achieve their potential and are proud to be involved in such an innovative and ambitious project.
Lyle Millard, Head of Inclusion and Pastoral Services at Manchester Metropolitan University:
At Manchester Met we are proud of the service and support we offer to our disabled students, and are committed to supporting them from education into employment.
So we were delighted when we were asked to work with our students to contribute to this pilot and the development of this positive initiative.
Access to Work passport is one of 100 commitments outlined in the National Disability Strategy, published earlier in July 2021. The passport is designed to give holders the confidence to have conversations about their disability and adjustments with potential employers, which can otherwise be challenging. They will also help to raise awareness of the Access to Work scheme and encourage further uptake.
- The Adjustments Passport provides students with a disability or health condition with a record of adjustments they currently using and any future in-work support needs they may have. The passport reduces the need for the student to repeat details of their disability and how it could affect them in work.
- The passport will also help to raise awareness of Access to Work and the support it can provide and when the student applies for Access to Work the passport can be used to reduce the need for holistic assessment where the needs are documented.
- The passport will also support potential employers by documenting the in-work support the student requires and raising awareness of Access to Work and the possibility of support the student could receive.
- Talking about workplace adjustments can be difficult, to support and empower the student the passport can be used as a communication tool to enable the student to have a more structured and confidence conversation about their disability and the adjustments they need with employers.
- Students who graduate in 2022 will be the first to benefits from the Adjustments Passports.
- The pilot will complete by March 2023, if successful the DWP will roll out more generally..
- The DWP are also piloting Adjustments Passports with disabled youngsters on a supported internship, apprenticeship or a traineeship in March 2022.