How to build a training plan for neurodiverse employeesby
With expertise in neurodiversity, Dr Louise Karwowski provides guidance on how to design and implement personalised training plans for neurodiverse employees, trainees and apprentices.
In my previous article, I wrote about how providing neurodiverse employees with equal opportunities to succeed can be done in a multitude of ways: from providing personal support and guidance, to implementing the appropriate reasonable adjustments.
In addition to this, one of the best ways to support workers and apprentices with additional needs is to provide them with a personalised training plan.
Why are personalised training plans important?
A personalised training plan with customised, adapted educational methods and techniques, means that the learning process is honed to the individual, recognising their unique needs and cognitive profile.
Studies have shown that 77% of learning and development professionals think tailored learning is vital in encouraging engagement; this feeds into how training providers plan both on-the-job and off-the-job requirements for learners and trainees.
Training plans that take individuals’ cognitive profiles and learning needs into consideration can deliver a host of benefits, such as improved engagement and higher retention rates.
77% of learning and development professionals think tailored learning is vital in encouraging engagement.
After adapting their initial assessment stage to better understand each apprentice’s starting point and learning needs, Lincoln College – one of the largest training, education, and apprenticeship providers in the Midlands – saw an increased apprentice retention rate, as well as an improved learner engagement rate of 93%.
In the same way, these benefits can be replicated in the workplace by creating personalised training and progression plans for apprentices.
Building the training plan
With the introduction of the new standards for apprenticeships, training providers are now required to set out their own unique curriculum. This gives providers much more flexibility and control, and should in theory, mean that they can plan in a way that allows for individualised implementation of the training.
It also ensures that each apprentice has the opportunity to access learning in a way that meets their needs and improves their chances of successful engagement.
In order to design, execute, and fine-tune a training plan, employers need to be aware of apprentices’ starting points and cognitive needs.
Discovering apprentices’ starting points and cognitive needs is essential in creating an impactful training plan.
This is best done by carrying out an extensive initial assessment at the point of onboarding to explore prior knowledge, cognitive profiles, and learning needs – both known and hidden. This can be done via cognitive assessments and other activities.
Providers and employers should be introspective about the purpose of the training activities: what does the programme aim to achieve for each apprentice? How can learning be adapted and individualised for each learner? How will the impact of the training be measured?
After this, providers can liaise closely with line managers to ensure the training plan adheres to the specific requirements of the apprentice’s role.
The initial assessment
The initial assessment is where a baseline will be established. Having a clear understanding of each apprentice’s starting point makes the implementation of the personalised training more efficient, as specific requirements will be known to providers and employers.
This helps ensure that all apprentices have an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of any cognitive or learning needs. The assessment process used should be referred back to periodically throughout the duration of the apprenticeship.
Implementation of the training plan
To effectively deliver the personalised training plan, training providers and employers should clearly define activities and learning objectives, as well as the ways in which they intend to accommodate any additional needs or reasonable adjustments.
These are the means taken to avoid a substantial disadvantage that an apprentice may face due to a disability.
In addition to defining the training programme, employers and providers also need to ensure each apprentice has a comprehensive and individualised Learning Support Plan (LSP) in place; this must set out how support will be delivered and any necessary reasonable adjustments for their entire training journey.
Monitoring employee progress
In implementing a personalised training plan for apprentices, providers should put in place milestones and tracking to help monitor their progress throughout the learning journey.
Furthermore, these checkpoints should also be used as Learning Support Reviews, to measure the effectiveness of any learning support plans that are in place. These plans can then be interrogated and adjusted depending on the outcome of these sessions.
Self-assessment of the training plan is key – only they know what does and does not work for them.
It’s vital the learner takes a proactive role in assessing how their learning support plan is or isn’t helping them. Be sure to empower them to really interrogate the efficacy of the plan and any reasonable adjustments that are in place – only they know what does and does not work for them.
An inevitable aspect of demonstrating apprentice progress is some sort of assessment – this should be designed to adequately evaluate their progress, while considering their learning needs.
Key points to remember
It is critical to demonstrate how a training plan will be inclusive to all, including neurodiverse apprentices. The level of success will, however, depend on the level of attention paid to critical points of an apprentice’s learning journey.
The importance of a robust initial assessment cannot be overstated.. If this stage is done well, all future adjustments and individualisation will flow, being well-informed and grounded in dependable data.
Embedding initial assessment into a universal onboarding process creates a more open and welcoming atmosphere that should encourage self-disclosure of any additional needs.
Through showing a clear commitment to and understanding of apprentices with these needs, providers will demonstrate their dedication to ensuring no learner is left behind.