Earlier this term, The Department for Education (DfE) announced that it was investing £18m in strengthening supported internships. The contract was awarded to the British Association of Supported Employment (BASE) and a new consortium called ‘Internships Work’ which includes the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), BASE, and DFN Project SEARCH. Between them, these delivery partners are charged with:
- working with local authorities to double the number of supported internships by 2025
- engaging with employers and young people to improve the quality of supported internships
- training over 700 new job coaches by 2025.
We invited Julie Pointer, Programme Lead for Children and Young People at NDTi, to tell us more about Internship Work’s plans and why she thinks the support they will be offering is so badly needed.
When I talk to young people with a learning disability and young autistic people, they talk about wanting to do the same things that every young person has a chance to do. Having a job, having friends, doing things in their community and being as independent as they can are top of their list.
I truly believe everyone with additional needs can work if they want to. With the right support in place for them and their employer, the benefits for both are huge.
Employment plays such an important part of being independent, increasing confidence and a sense of belonging. Currently, only 5.1% of adults aged 18-64 with a learning disability gain permanent paid employment in the UK, compared to 80% of their peers. This has to change!
The Government has now committed to supporting more young people with special educational needs into work and that has resulted in a new programme to double the number of supported internships in England.
Internships Work is a new collaboration between National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), British Association of Supported Employment (BASE) and DFN Project SEARCH and funded by the Department for Education (DfE).
Our aim is to bring together local authorities, employers and education providers to sustainably create 4500 high quality supported internship placements each year by 2025.
We’re working with all 152 local authorities across England to administer grants and support them to set up and develop local SEND employment forums. I urge all FE colleges and specialist colleges to make sure you’re part of those local forums.
Our colleagues at DFN Project SEARCH will be supporting local teams to offer more high quality internship models and training business champions. BASE will be further developing the Supported Employment Quality Framework and enabling employers to work towards a quality kitemark that promotes their inclusive recruitment. They will also be providing training to over 760 job coaches.
I think the sector is in a state of flux and career and job conversations have to start at a much earlier age, when children are small. For example, asking ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and having people talk about the work they do so you can see what’s possible. It’s important for those conversations to continue into teenage years and for schools and colleges to work with young people to look at what skills they’ve got, what jobs they might like to do and where they might need some extra support.
It’s everyone’s business and it has to start when children are young. We’ve got a long way to go, but by early 2023 I want to start seeing real change starting to appear with supported internships. We know there’s a large talent pool out there, we just need to match our young people to the right jobs.
Brian works as an engineer at the Marriott Hotel, originally starting as an intern on the DFN Project SEARCH programme: “Getting this opportunity to work has made me more confident and I no longer see myself as a person with learning difficulties. I’m now someone who can, for example, pick up the phone and sort out a problem. I get up in the morning and I want to go to work. I enjoy every minute of it.”
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