Hundreds of university students with disabilities 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 will ease the transition from university into employment by reducing the need for repeated health assessments when starting a new job.
The pilot scheme, announced as part of the National Disability Strategy, is now getting 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.
On International Day of People with Disabilities, Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith has praised the scheme, which she believes will empower disabled students and those with long term health conditions, as they transition into the workplace.
Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith said:
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 after 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, said:
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, said:
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.
The Access to Work passport is just 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.