A view of Glasgow

Strathclyde Business School

Breaking barriers for young people with learning disabilities

By Andy Cruickshank - Posted on 6 February 2020

Strathclyde Business School works with ENABLE Scotland on the Breaking Barriers programme. Here Andy Cruickshank, delivery manager at ENABLE Works, provides some insight into the initiative.

My interest in helping others started at a young age when I was brought up within a care focused family. Through later life, I’ve been privileged to travel around the world and meet people who, despite facing adversity, see the positive in everything they do. I worked in refugee camps where basic education was a distant dream for many and now I’m in the position where I can support people with learning disabilities through university with ENABLE Scotland.

In Scotland around 120,000 people have a learning disability - just over 2% of the population. Statistics show that around 14,000 pupils in schools in Scotland have a learning disability, and yet in 2016 only 4% of school leavers who have a learning disability went into higher education, compared with 46% of all school leavers that year.  Added to this, only 7% of people with a learning disability are in paid employment, in comparison to 76% of the general population. This means more than 100,000 people in Scotland with a learning disability need support to find work.

This is where ENABLE Scotland comes in. Every year ENABLE Scotland’s employability arm, ENABLE Works, supports more than 1600 people to develop the skills they need and identify opportunities to find employment, with more than 400 moving into work.

For the third consecutive year we’re working in partnership with the University of Strathclyde Business School, ScottishPower and Marriott Hotels to deliver Breaking Barriers, a ground breaking programme which provides young people with learning disabilities with the opportunity to attend one of the leading business schools in the UK, achieve an accredited qualification and gain real work experience with some of the largest employers in Scotland.

Throughout this programme, students will take part in an eight-week business skills course, covering digital marketing, social media, working with people and customer service. During these eight weeks they are supported by an ENABLE Scotland learning co-ordinator, lecturers from the University of Strathclyde and peer mentors who are currently completing their studies within the Business School at Strathclyde.

Following on from their studies, the students will take place in an eight-week work placement, either with Scottish Power or Marriott Hotels, which will provide them with invaluable, hands-on work experience with the aim of putting this experience into practice with employment after the course.

Just recently Strathclyde Business School won Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year at the 2019 Times Higher Education Awards for Breaking Barriers. This is testament to the work the students and supporting staff have put into the programme to make it the major success it is.

Breaking Barriers is more than an education and employment programme, this partnership enables young people with a learning disability to have the university experience that is a rite of passage for so many young people across the world: it is truly breaking barriers.

Contact details

 Undergraduate admissions
 +44 (0)141 548 4114

 Postgraduate admissions
 +44(0)141 553 6118 / 6119


Strathclyde Business School
University of Strathclyde
199 Cathedral Street
G4 0QU

Triple accredited

AACSB, AMBA and Equis logos
Winner THE 2016 Business School of the year logo