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Should You Tell An Employer About Your Disability? IBM Apprentice Andrew Says Yes.

Moving on spoke to Andrew, an apprentice service manager with IBM. We asked him, should you tell an employer about your disability? His answer? – yes, and an IBM spokesperson told us how having this information early on can really help your employer support you in the workplace.

Meet Andrew, An apprentice at IBM

Should you tell your employer about your disability?

Andrew is an apprentice service manager at IBM, ensuring that clients receive a high level of customer service.

Andrew is an apprentice service manager at IBM. He is on a four-year, higher level IT, Software, Web and Telecoms apprenticeship programme.  On a day-to-day basis, Andrew is responsible for ensuring that client matters are dealt with quickly by the team and that clients are receiving a high level of customer service and he really enjoys the challenges that his job presents him with.


Whilst at school, Andrew has sessions with Connexions, a careers service, and when he was at college, Andrew visited the college ‘Careers Shop’. Andrew was encouraged at to keep as many options open to him as possible and to apply for both university and the apprenticeship that his college lecturer had told him about.


Andrew’s disability means that he sometimes has difficulty walking. This isn’t a barrier to his working however because the office that he works in has easy lift access.  His employer is very supportive and allows Andrew to work from home if he needs to. They have also provided Andrew with a laptop stand to ensure that the laptop is the correct height and a trolley bag so that carrying the laptop does not put a strain on Andrew’s back. They are also in the process of installing a hand-dryer  to replace the paper towel dispenser, which Andrew found difficult to use.

When Andrew declared his disability

Andrew declared his disability early on in the application process, through the equal opportunities form; he wanted to be totally honest and upfront. Andrew told us that he certainly doesn’t feel that having a learning difficulty or disability should deter anyone from applying for any job or an apprenticeship. As Andrew tells us, “I have never worried about getting employment as a person with a disability; if you have the skills that the employer wants then you already have your foot in the door.”

We encourage all employees to tell us about any difficulties they may have as early as possible in the hiring and recruitment process.”                                           Deborah Richard, IBM’s Diversity & Inclusion Leader UK & Ireland.

The Employer’s view on declaring your disability

IBM’s Diversity & Inclusion Leader UK & Ireland, Deborah Richard told us that,

IBM employs many thousands of people across the world and in all countries we employ those who have a disability. In all cases our employees are supported with assistive technologies and accessible buildings and facilities.

We 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.

We encourage all employees to tell us 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.

Once a candidate has been offered a job, it is really important that they work with their manager to agree what reasonable adjustments they need to be successful in their role; these include supportive technologies adapted furniture or laptops, and ways of working. These changes are regularly reviewed to assess if an employee’s needs have changed and there are all written in a reasonable adjustments document that both parties keep.

What the Government do to support those with disabilities in employment

Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson said:

Through our Access to Work scheme we can support disabled young people through interviews, apprenticeships, internships, and ultimately into work. An Access to Work grant can cover the cost of an adapted computer, support workers or travel to and from work, helping individuals make the most of their potential and take the first steps on the career ladder.”

More information on Access to Work can be found here:

Find out all about IBM Apprenticeships at the IBM website


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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