Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Helping young people with special needs into work through new supported internships [June 2012]

The press release issued by the Department for Education on 28 June 2012.

Thousands of young people with special educational needs are to get intensive support into long term paid work, thanks to a new government programme.

From this autumn supported internships are being trialled at 14 colleges around England for young people aged between 16 and 25 who have complex learning difficulties or disabilities. The trials will test a study programme for supported internships that could be adopted by all further education colleges from September 2013.

The supported internships trial, backed by £3 million from the Department for Education, will provide a structured learning programme at an employer, like a restaurant, library or clothes retailer, that is tailored to the individual needs of the young person. It will equip them with the skills they need for the job, backed by expert job coaches to support interns and employers, and give them a chance to study for relevant qualifications. The programme gives them the platform to break down negative attitudes and show employers what they can do.

Giving these young people experience of work allows the young adults to boost their confidence and empowers them to become more independent.

Sarah Teather, Minister for Children and Families, said:

This is about helping young people with complex needs learn the skills they need for the workplace within a real job situation.

We have to be more ambitious and tap into huge potential in people with learning needs. We can’t leave the most vulnerable on the scrapheap, without a way of getting a job and being able to live as independently as they can.

With appropriate mentoring, even young people with complex needs can shine in a successful business.

The Minister saw how this works in practice at the Rose Project at Havering College of Further & Higher Education in east London, which has operated a supported employment programme for young adults with special educational needs for several years.

Jenny Carr, Programme Manager for the Realistic Opportunities for Supported Employment Project, said:

We are passionate about the work that we do because we see how life changing this is for our clients who want the same opportunity as others to have jobs and develop their own independence. The benefits to businesses are also immense as the employers we already work with will happily testify.

Brian Mott, Facilities Manager, said:

An unexpected benefit of employing people with learning disabilities has been the attitude they bring to the workplace. Most of us can be a bit jaded with work but they’re a breath of fresh air and it impacts on others.

Every person you employ has their own idiosyncrasies and if you don’t prejudge people with learning disabilities then I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The supported internships trial is part of the biggest reform of special education needs policy in 30 years. The special educational needs green paper Next Steps details how the government supports young people who lose support when they leave school.

Special educational needs statements and learning difficulty assessments will, from 2014, be replaced with a single assessment which cuts red tape and helps to provide a continuous plan to support teenagers with special educational needs prepare for adulthood.