National funding boost to help young people with special educational needs and disabilities into paid employment.

Young people in Warwickshire with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will benefit from a life changing supported internships programme, thanks to a grant of £105,000 from the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi). 

The grant, which will be distributed over a three-year period is designed to support more young people with additional needs to have greater choice and control over opportunities that prepare them for adult life and enable them to gain long-term meaningful employment. Currently, only 4.8% of people nationally with special educational needs and disabilities gain permanent paid employment in the UK, compared to 80% of their peers. 

Supported internships help young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) to achieve paid employment. The programme gives young people the skills they need for work by learning in the workplace. Supported internships are unpaid, and last for at least six months. Where possible, young people move into paid employment at the end of the programme. As well as time at the employer, young people complete a personalised study programme. The study programme includes the chance to study for relevant qualifications.  

Research has shown that it is not only the young people that benefit from internships. Businesses who have engaged with previous programmes have reported increased levels of morale among staff, reduced sickness levels and higher productivity. 

The County Council is working with businesses and is hosting a webinar in late March to talk through the processes involved and the benefits, along with some practical insight from companies that have hosted interns.  

Councillor Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for education, said:  

“A supported internship can open life changing opportunities for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Not only will the funding from the National Development Team for Inclusion help us to increase the number and quality of community based supported internships and future employment for young people with an EHCP in Warwickshire, but it will also enable our young people to become more independent, lead a fulfilling life and be part of their community.” 

In addition to supported internships, it is also hoped the NDTI funding will support the development of a SEND employment forum in Warwickshire as part of the Internships Work programme. This will be achieved through gaining experiences, feedback and future recommendations from children, young people, parents, carers, colleges, and businesses, which will inform new guidance and infrastructure of quality control, standardisation and consistency.  

Find more information on supported internships in Warwickshire here.  

Find more information on the National Development Team for Inclusion here.  

Published: 28th February 2023