ENABLE's Breaking Barriers programme will now expand across Scotland, establishing itself on the east coast.
A new charity-led partnership has set out to create equality across those accessing higher education opportunities.
ENABLE Scotland’s Breaking Barriers programme is working with young people who have a learning disability to ensure they have the support required to access university life.
The project, set up between ENABLE Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and global professional services firm, EY, allows young people to undertake work experience opportunities with a leading global employer, and graduate with a university qualification from a world-class academic institution.
Whilst 45 per cent of all Scotland’s school leavers go to university, only 8.6 per cent of school leavers who have a learning disability go on to higher education.
Established by ENABLE Scotland in 2018, Breaking Barriers has now partnered with some of Scotland’s highest profile corporate employers and has named EY as its newest official partner alongside Edinburgh Napier University – expanding its reach across the East of Scotland.
A cohort of young people from the East of Scotland are already undertaking studies and will now start work placements at EY.
On her experience with Breaking Barriers so far, Anna Taylor, 17, said: “It has been really refreshing to meet different people who have the same anxieties and barriers as I do and who understand how you feel.
“It is a very unique experience; I have the support I need but also get to pursue something that was previously outside of my comfort zone.
“I am looking forward to my work placement with EY to see how the topics we have covered with Edinburgh Napier apply in a real life work setting.”
ENABLE Group CEO and co-founder of the Breaking Barriers programme, Theresa Shearer, will speak at the 2022 Harkin International Disability Employment Summit in Belfast discussing the Breaking Barriers programme and the charity’s goal to ensure further education is made more accessible for those with a learning disability.
She said: “I am delighted that we are building on the success of the Breaking Barriers programme and making it possible for even more students who have a learning disability to access the life-shaping experience of university that is a rite of passage for so many, yet it is currently available to so few disabled young people.
“Breaking Barriers demonstrates how the public, private and third sectors can work collaboratively to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in education and the workplace, and I am excited to welcome Edinburgh Napier University and EY as the programme’s newest partners, advancing our shared ambition of a truly inclusive society for all.”
The Breaking Barriers programme originated in the West of Scotland and has entered its fifth consecutive year, delivered in a partnership between ENABLE Scotland, the University of Strathclyde Business School, ScottishPower and STV.
Such is the success of the programme that many former graduates have gone on to shape their chosen career path and secure employment and additional training opportunities in fields such as filmmaking, para-medicine, cyber security, financial services, digital music, and fashion.
The expansion of the programme is supported by Edinburgh City Council through the Young Person Guarantee.
Professor Nazira Karodia, Vice Principal of Learning and Teaching at Edinburgh Napier University said: “We are delighted to welcome our ENABLE students to The Business School, where our vision is to be the Business School for empowerment, enterprise and employability for all.
“Our ethos as a university is to be the home for difference makers and our position as the number one modern university in Scotland reflects our success in providing students with a positive learning experience, and our close industry links.
“Not everyone has an opportunity to change the world, but everyone can make a positive difference to the world around them: working with fantastic partners like ENABLE and EY is truly helping break barriers faced by young people with learning difficulties.”