Supported internships and traineeships

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Supported internships and traineeships are programmes available to young people who need extra support before embarking on a more demanding course.

Traineeships are designed for those young people who want to progress onto an apprenticeship but don’t have the necessary skills yet. A traineeship lasts up to 6 months and includes work preparation, English and maths support and an unpaid work experience placement.

Supported internships are for young people who have learning difficulties or learning disabilities.

The main difference between a traineeship and a supported internship is the duration of the placement – up to six months for a traineeship, whilst a supported internship will last for more that six months.

What is a supported internship and who is it for?

To qualify for this programme a person needs to have a Statement of Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), a Learning Difficulty Assessment or an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

How supported internships work

A supported internship takes place primarily with an employer. They last for at least 6 months, are unpaid and designed to help the student move into paid employment at the end of the programme.

Whilst gaining valuable work experience the student will complete a programme of extra study that is personalised to them. This is delivered by a school or college and will include literacy, numeracy and IT skills, with the opportunity to obtain formal qualifications where appropriate.

A ‘job coach’ works alongside the student to provide support, mentoring and reassurance and also acts as a communication link with the employer. The job coach will work with the employer to make any adjustments necessary for the individual student and help the student settle in to the workplace. Overtime, the job coach will gradually step back so that the student can develop independence, but is always available if needed.

Where to find opportunities

You can find out about supported internships from schools, colleges, Job Centre Plus or your son or daughter’s social worker or transition worker.

A case study

Source: Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

As a result of his successful internship, Zak was offered an apprenticeship in the college restaurant. He says it has, ‘given me the chance to carry out proper work… I don’t care about the cash I just like working, but it has got its uses… It has made me more independent and I am able to help out with finances at home’.

Zak, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, had completed a course in the Essential Skills Department at Seevic College the summer before the supported internship trial began. College staff knew that he was keen to work and that he was already volunteering at a local charity for people with physical disabilities. As a student he had a 100% attendance record and had demonstrated a variety of skills (such as attention to detail and commitment to a task) that they could see would be valued in the workplace if they could just help him into work. When invited to join the supported internship programme, Zak jumped at the chance.

A series of conversations helped establish that he would like to work in catering as he enjoyed cooking at home. During this initial period, staff discussed with Zak the different sorts of opportunities in the catering sector. He thought he might like to work in a supermarket café, so the team set about looking for a willing employer. While the search was on, the internship co-ordinator decided to see if she could organise a temporary position for Zak in the college restaurant, to enable him to begin building up his catering skills straightaway. She met with the catering manager, explained what the internship programme was all about and how full support would be provided during the short period that Zak was in the kitchen – and left with the offer of temporary placement. Zak started with basic kitchen duties like washing up and cleaning the tables before progressing onto helping with the preparation of foods. After a few weeks, the hunt for the supermarket job was called off. The catering manager at the college restaurant wanted to keep Zak on as an intern. A tailored support package, including job coaching, was arranged for him, involving college staff, the catering manager and his colleagues.

Towards the end of the internship, the manager reflected: ‘It is an amazing opportunity for a young person; it gives them an insight into the world of work through hands on experience. I am very pleased with the support from the staff of the supported internship, for both myself, my staff and for Zak. Zak is most helpful and happy to work with. He works to the best of his ability and he never forgets anything. His attendance is 100% and he is always willing to work extra. He is a pleasure to have around’.

It’s also led to a busy social life. Zak has been paintballing with colleagues (where he won the ‘Top Gun’ Award) and regularly meets up with them out of work. Zak’s Mum can’t speak highly enough of the supported internship: ‘The Supported Internship has given Zak a brilliant opportunity to start an apprenticeship in an area that he loves. The support from the college, the catering staff and the manager has been brilliant, even now since he has started the apprenticeship. He has become more confident and he eats more as he never used to eat. He wants to experiment with cooking. Every Sunday he helps me with the dinner and he tells me that I am doing it wrong and tells me the correct way to cook things. I can’t put it into words what it has done for Zak, he is brilliant and I am so proud of him’.

A parent’s checklist

Does your child have a Statement of Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), a Learning Difficulty Assessment or an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)? A supported internship or traineeship might be an ideal first step towards employment

Does your son or daughter need significant extra support with literacy and numeracy before applying for an apprenticeship? This support is provided on a supported internship or traineeship.

Would your son or daughter benefit from having a dedicated coach with them in the workplace until they felt comfortable to work alone? A job coach is provided to every student on a supported internship

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