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More than half a million disabled young people will face ‘double disadvantage’ in job hunt

More than half a million disabled young people will be hit by a double disadvantage as they try to move from education to employment unless urgent action is taken, disability groups have warned.

In a joint letter to Government ministers, a coalition of nine organisations led by the National Deaf Children’s Society has asked for changes to the Government’s Plan for Jobs to avoid a looming employment crisis among disabled young people aged 16-25.

Without the amendments, the group says that the double disadvantage of disability discrimination and a huge increase in competition for jobs caused by COVID-19 will leave disabled young people at a significant risk of long-term unemployment.

The organisations signing the letter include Thomas Pocklington Trust, Disability Rights UK, Genius Within, Leonard Cheshire, the National Development Team for Inclusion, Natspec, the Institute for Employment Studies and the Council for Disabled Children.

Among eight suggested changes, they want to see the Kickstarter Scheme expanded, Careers Advisors trained to work with disabled people and online job searching made more accessible. 

They are also calling for the number of Disability Employment Advisors to be doubled and the £1,000 incentive for businesses taking on apprentices to be extended to all disabled young people, rather than just those with Education, Health and Care plans. 

There are more than 500,000 disabled young people in the UK and the changes would unlock a generation of potential and give them all the chance to succeed, the organisations say.

Government figures from last year showed a 28.6% gap between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people. 

Research by the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Youth Advisory Board showed a lack of tailored advice for deaf young people and little support available when entering work.

Steve Haines, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “The Government’s efforts to get young people into work are very promising, but we’re extremely concerned that those who are disabled will still struggle to access jobs.

“There’s a generation of potential available and the Government has the chance to unlock it, but unless changes are made to the Plan for Jobs, hundreds of thousands of disabled young people will face years of being left behind.

“They already battle discrimination throughout their lives and often find it harder to gain employment, so we cannot risk the gap getting any wider.

“The changes we’re proposing will mean the Government can build on the progress it has already made and give every disabled young person the chance to show what they can do.”

University of Wolverhampton academics have helped secure funding to accelerate research into Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and find solutions to the UK housing crisis.

Professor Mohammed Arif, Dr David Heesom, Professor Jack Goulding, Dr Amit Kaushik, Dr Mandeep Saini, and Dr Mohammad Qasim Rana from the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment will be working alongside local Black Country manufacturer, Totally Modular, who is leading on the project after securing a project worth £2m from UK Research and Innovation UK (UKRI).

STELLAR, the consortium of academic, technical, industry and end user stakeholders which includes Citizen Housing, TDS, Spacious Place and Jali, will explore the potential of producing a common steel framing platform without the need to start from first engineering principles when designs change.

Totally Modular is a manufacturer of Volumetric Modular Homes aimed at the Affordable and Social Housing market and STELLAR will offer social housing developers and owners the tools and business models they need to provide affordable homes across the UK in line with demand.

The model centralises complex and high-cost design, frame manufacturing and warranty tools within a central virtual 'hub', supporting SME-operated 'spoke' factories near to the point of need.

Brian Maunder, Founder of Totally Modular, said: “The committed and highly innovative STELLAR consortium includes modular steel frame specialists, home builders and highly respected academics.

“We form a complete value chain that will last beyond this project. The team has attracted positive attention from organisations including National Housing Associations and the House of Lords, who recently sought Totally Modular's input to upcoming national strategies.

“This funding will definitely positively transform the MMC sector specifically for social and affordable housing. However, it also brings significant social benefits and drives forward our message for ‘Local Homes for Local People, providing Local Jobs that supports the Local Economy’.”

Professor Mohammed Arif, Head of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University, said: “The UK faces an unprecedented housing shortage; 3.9 million new homes must be built just to meet current demand. Despite this, just half the homes needed are currently being built and the shortfall continues to increase.

“Modern Methods of Construction, such as off-site manufacturing of houses in factories, promise lower-cost, higher-quality homes constructed in days instead of months. This is particularly beneficial to suppliers of social housing who are facing increasing challenges in delivering quality affordable homes.

“Housing associations often need small volumes of customised properties to suit infill and brownfield sites, which does not match with the needs of factory owners to sell high volumes of near-identical properties. Concentrating manufacturing in a handful of large, centralised factories also increases transportation and impacts the local workforce.

“By developing AI and Generative Design based tools to help optimise the design of the houses, the University team will utilise our digital construction expertise to ensure cost effective and sustainable designs. We will also be providing expertise in the development of Digital Twins of the factories used for producing the houses and implementing our ongoing research in Discrete Event Simulation (DES) to enhance the production processes.”

The Consortium aims to achieve:

  1. 3D 'digital twin' factory planning tool to ensure fit to need and support capital investment
  2. Parametric Modelling tool for SMEs, enabling them to optimise house design and ringfence production slots
  3. A UK first, open-access 'Should-Cost' Model driven by parametric design to generate accurate build costs
  4. A Modular Build Design App, directly informing production, enabling HAs to specify homes that meet their needs.
  5. Demonstration home(s) -- Homes designed and produced through the hub-and-spoke model and STELLAR toolkit will be installed in client specified configurations. They will come complete with a suite of unobtrusive miniature IoT enabled environmental and usage sensors to enable energy and operational performance data to be monitored and analysed. A period of occupation will then be completed prior to future-casting to confirm environmental performance, whole-life cost and longevity, and provide a strong return on investment.

 

A third of children in the West Midlands have said that Harry Potter still takes the wand as most beloved character from a book – despite him being introduced to the world all the way back in 1997.

 

Other characters who topped the list include The Gruffalo and Roald Dahl’s Charlie Bucket alongside The BFG – which makes sense considering Roald Dahl also takes one of the top spots as children’s most loved author with 38 percent of the vote. David Walliams proves he’s made a big splash in the world of children’s literature by claiming the second spot with 31 per cent followed JK Rowling 25 percent of the vote.

 

As big believers in the power of children’s minds, the research from the collective kids, Suckies, the UK’s fastest growing yoghurt brand, also found that tapping into the imaginations of our kids seems to pay off well as adventure books and fantasy tales both come out on top as kids’ favourites with 25 percent and 19 percent of the vote respectively.

 

Despite the growing number of toys, tech and games that are available to kids these days, 47 percent still love to sit down and have fun with a read of their favourite book. 57 percent have even decided to write their own stories but of those who don’t, 27 percent state that they just don’t feel creative enough.

 

The love we have for reading hasn’t faded throughout the generations as the research by dairy lovers, the collective’s beloved products for kids, Suckies also found that the average child in the West Midlands will sit down and read to themselves for almost two hours. It also seems that kids really are just like us as 32 percent will sit and have a snack with a good book, while 33 percent will go and get their comfy clothes on before they settle down for a read. 

 

As so many children are keen to write their own stories, it will come as no surprise that many also want to become a Roald Dahl of their own, and turn writing into a full time career when they grow up – with one in ten saying this is their dream profession.

 

Sarah Horowitz at The Collective said, “We understand how important it is for kids to get creative and keep their imaginations alive – especially over the summer holidays! Reading, writing, running, jumping, whatever it is, it’s critical that we help children to feel comfortable using their own voice, creating their own adventures, and of course keeping their energy topped up throughout”.

 

 

Top 5 Authors chosen by Kids

Roald Dahl

35%

David Walliams

30%

J. K. Rowling

25%

Julia Donaldson

14%

Jacqueline Wilson

13%

Top 5 Books chosen by Kids

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

24%

Gangster Granny

15.1%

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

15%

The BFG

14.1%

Matilda

14%

Top 5 Storybook Characters chosen by Kids

Harry Potter

33%

The Gruffalo

18.4%

Charlie (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

18%

The BFG

17%

Peter Rabbit

15%

GCSE and A-level results in England will be higher this summer, with exam boards set to be more lenient. Written exams were cancelled because of the pandemic - with pupils' results to be based on predicted outcomes.

The watchdog Ofqual says the numbers getting good grades will be 2% higher at A-level and 1% at GCSE. But they will be much lower than the "optimistic" predictions from teachers, which at A-level would have pushed up results 12% higher than last year.

The exam regulator says it is also confident, from preliminary results, that there has been no "unconscious bias" in predicted grades that would have disadvantaged ethnic minorities or poorer students.

A report from the education select committee this month warned of the risk that some pupils could be discriminated against. But Ofqual says there is no evidence of any widening gaps in this summer's results, in terms of ethnicity, gender or deprivation, compared with years when pupils have taken exams.

While individual pupils will not find out their GCSEs and A-levels until next month, the process of standardising these predicted grades means that the overall national picture is already emerging.

The exam regulator says this will be a more generous year, with candidates more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. So for instance, last summer 25.5% of candidates achieved an A grade or above at A-level - and this year it will be more like 27.5%.

Parents and carers of children who are about to turn two, or who are already two years old, are being encouraged to find out about a free childcare scheme.

Terrific for Twos gives children of eligible parents up to 15 hours of funded early education per week, either at a participating nursery, pre-school, school nursery or childminder.

Children are eligible for 15 hours free under the scheme if their parents or carers receive one of a number of certain benefits, or if they are a looked after child, are adopted, or have a statement of special education needs or an education, health and care plan. For full details of eligibility, please visit www.terrificfortwos.com.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Every year hundreds of families in Wolverhampton benefit from the Terrific for Twos scheme at participating nurseries, schools and childminders.

“Accessing early education gives your child the chance to learn, play and make new friends and the opportunity to develop and master new skills. It also supports them as they prepare for school by helping them to communicate, explore new experiences and be active and healthy.

“I would encourage all eligible parents and carers of two-year-olds, or little ones who are about to turn two, to take advantage of the Terrific for Twos scheme.”

Eligible parents and carers should have received a Terrific for Twos postcard from the council. This is proof of entitlement and should be presented to a chosen Terrific for Twos childcare provider.

To find a local provider, please contact Information for Families on 01902 554242 or email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Any parents or carers who haven’t received their postcard but think they may be entitled to 15 hours free childcare are asked to please visit www.terrificfortwos.com for full details of eligibility and how to apply.

Please note, applications can only be made in the term the child turns two, or if they are already two years old. Free childcare begins in the term after their second birthday.

 

Man Utd ‘new’ striker Dr Marcus Rashford after being awarded honorary doctorate

International footballer Marcus Rashford is set to become the youngest recipient of an honorary doctorate from The University of Manchester. The 22-year-old will be recognised for his campaign against child poverty, and his sporting achievements.

The Manchester United forward persuaded the government to extend the free school meal vouchers scheme throughout the summer. He said: "It's a proud day for me and my family."

The England international striker will follow legendary Manchester United figures such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton, who have previously received the award - the highest honour the university can offer.

"When you look at the great names that have been awarded this doctorate in the past, it's humbling," said Rashford. "We still have a long way to go in the fight to combat child poverty in this country, but receiving recognition from your city means we are heading in the right direction, and that means a lot."

In June, Rashford called on the government to reverse a decision not to provide free school meal vouchers during the summer, saying that "the system isn't built for families like mine to succeed".

University President and Vice-Chancellor Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell said: "Marcus is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent and drive that stretches well beyond the football field."

"His work for charity and his high-profile campaign will not only help countless young people across our own city, but across the entire country."

Manchester United praised Rashford as an "exceptional player and an exceptional person".

The club said: "His work with FareShare and his focus on child poverty make him richly deserving of this tremendous honour, and everyone at Manchester United is incredibly proud of him."

Photo: Oleg Bkhambri (Voltmetro)