What could be more rewarding than helping to train, inspire, then see someone develop their skills and give back to your business?
A Supported Internship is an opportunity for employers to give a young person with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and an education, health and care (EHC) plan the chance to experience the world of work and potentially become your next recruit.
Read on to find out more about supported internships and how they can impact your workforce.
What is a supported internship?
Supported internships were introduced by the government in 2013 to give a greater focus on preparing young people with SEND with the skills needed for adulthood and employment. Supported internships are unpaid and wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme.
Supported interns are enrolled and supported by a learning provider, but spend most of their learning time- typically around 70%- in a workplace. Every young person is supported in the work placement by a trained job coach, put in place by their education provider. The job coach provides in-work support that tapers off, if appropriate, as the supported intern becomes familiar with their role. Job coaches also work with employers, increasing their confidence in employing individuals with additional needs and helping them to create and support a diverse workforce.
Supported Internships are a great opportunity for employers to strengthen their workplace by taking on a SEND intern, gaining a valuable team member and providing them with practical exposure to a working environment . There are a number of benefits to working with an intern with learning disabilities:
- No additional cost – supported internships are government funded
- Allows you to apply for Disability Confident employer scheme- a highly regarded achievement
- Increased workforce diversity
- Interns may have skills currently lacking in existing staff eg. high functioning autism can result in significantly above average accuracy
Businesses need to commit to providing a high-quality work experience opportunity, which is substantial and meaningful for the young person.
The supported internship placement should last for an academic year (10 months) and allow one day off per week study leave for the intern. You will need to provide effective line management and supervision of the intern and a work buddy or mentor should be allocated to them.
The placement should enable the interns to develop new skills and behaviours, engage in purposeful work related learning, and have the confidence to take the first step in their career to secure a traineeship, apprenticeship, or other employment.
Although employers are not required to provide a job at the end of the internship, the aim of supported internships is to prepare young people with learning difficulties for employment. As the intern will have been fulfilling a real business need in your organisation, you should consider whether you can take them on as a paid member of staff at the end of their internship.
Many organisations that the college works with have carved up existing roles in order to meet business needs and provide entry-level positions. Additional funding is also available to those businesses who wish to recruit apprentices who have an Education Health & Care plan.
If you are not in a position to recruit or the intern hasn’t met the required standards, employers can still play a role in providing a reference and feedback to the college about the skills or behaviours that need to be developed.
Walsall College will manage the intern recruitment process and the government funding application for a Job Coach to work alongside both the interns and employer.
The Job Coach will work with the employer to arrange the induction period, and provide as much support as is needed during this time. They will support with any reasonable adjustments needed - these often cost nothing and can benefit other employees too.
As the young person becomes more able, the Job Coach will gradually withdraw their support, but an employer will still be able to contact them or Walsall College at any time if issues arise.
Walsall College provides safeguarding training for employers taking on supported interns as standard, and offers distance-learning courses for employees covering areas such as understanding learning difficulties and autism awareness.
Getting the right young person into the right job role with the right employer is critical to the success of an individual internship. The Job Coach will work with you to identify a job role that fulfils a real business need for your organisation, and ensure the best possible candidate match to the job role and placement. The role can develop over time as you get to know what the young person can do
Supported internships and traineeships are work-based study programmes that aim to support young people into employment. Apprenticeships are paid jobs that include off-the-job training.
Supported internships are specifically for young people with an EHC plan, and as such, they are expected to require a different level of support compared to a trainee or apprentice. They will have a job coach to support them in their workplace learning.
Supported interns are expected to need a longer programme than a trainee. Traineeships usually last between 6 weeks and 6 months with the aim of progressing people to an apprenticeship or employment as quickly as possible. Supported internships last for at least 6 months, and up to a year.
Disability Confident employer scheme
The Disability Confident scheme supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to your workplace.
Disability Confident employers of all sizes are:
- challenging attitudes towards disability
- increasing understanding of disability
- removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions
- ensuring that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations
Being Disability Confident could help you discover someone your business just can’t do without.
Whether an employee has become disabled during their working life, or you’re looking for new recruits, being Disability Confident can help your people fulfil their potential and contribute fully to your team’s success.
By being Disability Confident, you’ll also be seen as leading the way in your business sector and beyond, helping to positively change attitudes, behaviours and cultures.
Disability Confident helps businesses:
- draw from the widest possible pool of talent
- secure and retain high quality staff who are skilled, loyal and hard working
- save time and money on the costs of recruitment and training by reducing staff turnover
- keep valuable skills and experience
- reduce the levels and costs of sickness absences
- improve employee morale and commitment by demonstrating that they treat all employees fairly
The scheme has 3 levels designed to support you at every step on your Disability Confident journey. You must complete each level before moving on to the next.
Level 1: Disability Confident Committed
To be recognised as Disability Confident Committed, you must agree to the Disability Confident commitments and identify at least one action that you’ll carry out to make a difference for disabled people, information on this can be found on the government website.
Level 2: Disability Confident Employer
Once you’ve signed up for level 1 you can progress to level 2, a Disability Confident Employer, by self-assessing your organisation around 2 themes:
- getting the right people for your business
- keeping and developing your people
Level 3: Disability Confident Leader
By becoming a Disability Confident Leader, you’ll be acting as a champion within your local and business communities. To reach this level you’ll need to:
- have your self-assessment validated by someone outside of your business (not including DWP employees in jobcentres)
- provide a short narrative to show what you have done or will be doing to support your status as a Disability Confident Leader
- confirm you are employing disabled people
- report on disability, mental health and wellbeing, by referring to the Voluntary Reporting Framework