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Being A Wheelchair User Is No Barrier To Doing An Apprenticeship

Meet Holly, Higher Apprentice with IBM who has found that being a wheelchair user is no barrier to doing an apprenticeship


Holly is a higher apprentice studying for a Level 4 Business and Administration qualification whilst working as an apprentice service coordinator for IBM. Holly works with technical teams to resolves issues, reports outages to clients and tracks trends through data analysis.


When Holly was at school everybody advised her to go to university, but she just wasn’t excited about the idea. Although Holly now believes that apprenticeships are being seen as a more attractive option, at the time people didn’t seem to realise the potential and opportunities available to young people through an apprenticeship.  A good friend of Holly’s was doing an apprenticeship so Holly looked into it and applied successfully.


Holly told us:

As a teenager, I worried about gaining employment as a person with a disability. Most of my friends were waitresses and this wasn’t a good fit for me as a wheelchair user.

As an IBM apprentice, I work in a building which is fully accessible.   I declared my disability as part of the application process because I believe it helps employers to put any necessary changes in place, and because it will help you to find opportunities that are a great fit for you and help you gain independence.

One of the hardest things for me is making sure that I do not get too tired. I’ve learned to manage my workload and my tiredness levels by making sure that I’m in a good routine. I also have flexible working hours which allow me to access medical appointments if necessary.

I’ve made a lot of good friends in my job and I don’t feel that my disability affected my application in any way – my advice to others is that if you don’t view your disability as an obstacle other people won’t either.”

Deborah Richards, IBM’s Diversity & Inclusion Leader UK & Ireland told us that, “IBM are proud to be able to offer employment and career opportunities to those who are differently abled and this is part of our long history. The first disabled employee joined IBM in 1914. IBM encourage all employees to tell them about any difficulties they may have as early as possible in the hiring and recruitment process, as the recruitment teams are all trained to make the appropriate accommodations to ensure that every candidate has an equal chance at success in both the assessment and interview phases of the process.”

When asked about people with disabilities accessing apprenticeships, Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson told us:

“I hear from a lot of people that you can’t get a job without experience and can’t get experience without a job; for the one in six people who have a disability this can be even harder. But through our Access to Work scheme we can support disabled young people through interviews, apprenticeships, internships, and ultimately into work.”

Find out about IBM Apprenticeships as well as graduate and undergraduate opportunities on their web site.



About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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