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Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE) set up in 2020 an innovative academy called Pathways) to train and up skill disabled people into employment in inclusion related roles. Pathways aims to support young disabled people into the inclusion sector through a structured programme providing training, mentoring and networking support. It is a nine-month programme training programme providing an overview of the principles of inclusive design and skills-based training delivered by qualified access consultants.

We know that disabled people face a number of complex barriers to employment, the Pathways Academy seeks to help trainees overcome those barriers by giving the technical knowledge you need to develop a career in inclusive design. On the course, trainees will receive 22 days of training over 9 months.
Currently there are no formalised apprenticeship/ training programs into inclusive design or access-related employment. In addition, in the access profession there is a shortage of skills- Pathways supports disabled people to have technical skills as well as lived experience to support a more inclusive society.

There is a skills gap in inclusion and access expertise in our sector- “Nothing about us without us’ advocates participation by disabled people for an inclusive society – Pathways Academy, launched in 2020 led by Fara and her team at CAE, securing funding for the programme which supports the belief that disabled people should be part of the voice shaping inclusion in the built environment.
It is innovative and unique in the sector, the model and proposal was led by Fara and CAE – the proposal impressed the funders who were led by the vision of CAE and within months they agreed to fund Pathways for 3 years supporting 40 disabled people kick start a career in inclusion.
The program is flexible with eleven modules spread across 9 months, mentoring and on the job shadowing. This allowed students to continue their studies, volunteering and embed skills learned along the way.

Trainees also develop the all-important communications skills to help them use their new technical knowledge, through topics like presentation and training skills and how to write reports.

Each year CAE have trained disabled people and over 70% have secured work in inclusion – these include working in arts, university and disability led organisations. It the first of its kind and has amazing outcomes. Before training started only 20% of students were working or volunteering and 80% were looking for work. However, after Pathways this had trebled to 70% successfully working in the inclusion sector.
Pathways has proved instrumental in supporting young disabled people into work and into inclusion related roles and supporting their passion and social mobility to gain skills, have a rewarding career and make an impact
Other softer outcomes reported;
 confidence in working in a team
 Better problem solving skills
 Confidence in presentation skills
 confidence to apply for jobs in inclusive design
 Peer support

Students rated the academy with 98% positive feedback scored Feedback from Pathways trainees
Student, Agne said “It is a rich course with exercises, but a key part for me was learning how to write and construct audits. Whether someone uses it for inclusive design purposes or just general architecture, audit writing is an extremely useful skill to have”

Pathways’ first-year trainee Sana, saw the programme as a chance to start a new career after being made redundant due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was finding it tough to secure a new job. She said “I couldn’t find an appropriate job – I started to think, maybe, it’s because I’m disabled,”. She says of her experience: “A year ago I didn’t know anything about inclusive design, but the training I’ve received has helped me repair my self-confidence and believe that, yes, I can do this. “Now, I’m part of a new community and I feel like this career was destined for me”. Sana is now working as an access consultant specialising in Neurodiversity.
Sam Renke, Actress and disability campaigner said of Pathways “I’ve seen first-hand how impactful the Bridge to Work programme has been through my work with Whizz Kids who are a long term project partner of the scheme. For young disabled Londoners like me, it can be an anxiety fuelled journey trying to find a job. This is why we need more programmes like this”