Social enterprise Yellow Submarine use OCF grant to fund apprenticeships
In the first week of September four young people – Darren, Hannah, Anthony and Ian – have the nerves and excitement of starting their first ever job. They have joined as apprentices at the Oxford café of the charity Yellow Submarine. What is exceptional is that all four new apprentices have a learning disability.
Yellow Submarine applied for and was awarded a grant from the Oxfordshire Community Foundation that is directly helping to fund the apprenticeships. Despite being a small local charity, Yellow Submarine believes this will make it the largest, and possibly the only, employer of apprentices with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire.
Nationally, the numbers of new apprentices has risen significantly over the last decade. However, a government-commissioned report published last year shows that the percentage of new apprentices with autism or severe learning difficulties is just 0.1%.
After opening its social enterprise café – a means to train and employ people with learning disabilities – Yellow Submarine decided it was vital to overcome this to try to make apprenticeships accessible for everyone. Toby Staveley, the organisation’s CEO, said that the charity believes apprenticeships are the best possible stepping stone to long-term employment for people with learning disabilities. He said:
“Our apprentices will work with us for 20 hours per week for 78 weeks. Unlike with internships or traineeships, they will have full employment rights and be paid a weekly salary… they will train, learn and earn. An 18-month apprenticeship will be totally transformative for these individuals in a way that doesn’t compare to a short-term placement or volunteering.”
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