Special Educational Needs: Unpaid Work

(asked on 6th July 2023) - View Source

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to (a) engage with (i) national supermarkets and (ii) other parts of the retail sector to encourage them to offer Supported Internships to adults with learning difficulties and (b) increase the number of employers offering Supported Internships.

Answered by
Claire Coutinho Portrait
Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
This question was answered on 12th July 2023

Supported internships are personalised study programmes, specifically designed to support young people aged 16-24 with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, to prepare for and transition into sustained, paid employment. A variety of placements exist, including with high profile retailers such as Waitrose.

In February 2022, the department announced an investment of up to £18 million over the next three years to build capacity in the Supported Internships programme, aiming to double the number of Supported Internships to give more young people with an EHC plan the skills to secure and sustain paid employment.

The Internships Work consortium are the department’s contracted partner and deliver activities to expand and improve Supported Internships provision across the country. As part of this work, DFN Project Search are engaging and supporting a wide range of employers. By March 2025 they will identify and train 800 new employer champions, to strengthen the links between Supported Internships and employers across all sectors. DFN Project Search have provided local authorities with training on how to engage with Employer Champions and how local authorities can develop their local Supported Internship offer.

Finally, in the Spring Budget 2023, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced up to £3 million to pilot extending Supported Internships to young people without EHC plans. Through this pilot the department will seek to establish whether the Supported Internship model is an effective approach for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities without an EHC plan. We will identify the benefits and challenges of using the Supported Internship model to support this cohort and use learning from the pilot to consider if and how the approach could be rolled out more widely.

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