Sport & Outdoor Education

Supported Internships

Employer FAQs

What will it cost me to offer a supported internship work placement?

  • Extended work placements for supported internships are unpaid, because participating in an extended work placement is part of the young person's programme of study at their school or college.  The primary goal of a placement is to help a young person with learning difficulties to develop the skills they need for paid employment.
  • Funding for job coaches and reasonable adjustments will be arranged by the school or college.

Will the young person fit into my workplace?

  • If you are thinking about hosting a placement, the college will work with you to understand the role you have available, to ensure the best job match between the intern and you. 
  • The college may also suggest 'job carving', which means working with you to tailor the extended work placement to best meet your business needs, whilst utilising the strengths and abilities of the young person.
  • This might mean that tasks carried out by other employees can be given to the intern, freeing up resource for other staff.  Employers who have offered supported internships have found that it decreases the workload of their staff and teams.

What happens if things go wrong?

  • Even though your local school or college and the job coach will make every effort to match you with the most suitable young person, sometimes things can go wrong.
  • If the placement starts going wrong, be honest and act quickly.  Contact the job coach and explain your concerns, so that any issues can hopefully be resolved quickly.  It may be a skills gap, a difference in expectations between the intern and employer, a behaviour concern or simply a misunderstanding by the young person or employer.  Identifying the problem quickly is the best way to resolve it, thereby hopefully avoiding a possible breakdown of the placement.
  • If it becomes clear that the work placement is no longer viable, the job coach will work with you to bring it to an end.  Either the job coach or the school/college will discuss why things went wrong, and whether it's a good idea to consider placing another young person with you.

What do I, as an employer, need to do?

  • Getting the right young person into the right job role with the right employer is critical to the success of an individual internship.  The job coach will work with you to identify a job role that fulfils a real business need for your organisation, and ensure that someone is matched to the job role for the extended work placement.  The role can develop over time as you get to know what the young person can do.    
  • You will need to provide effective line management and supervision of the intern as you would with other employees, although a lot of support will be provided by the job coach - especially at first. 

What support will I receive during the internship?

  • The job coach will work with you to arrange the induction and settling in period, and provide as much support as is needed throughout this time.  
  • The job coach will also support you to make any reasonable adjustments that may be needed.  These often cost nothing and can be of benefit to other employers as well.  Where there is a cost, the job coach will apply for government funding to cover it.  As the young person becomes more confident and able, the job coach will gradually withdraw their support, but you will still be able to contact them at any time if any issues arise. 

What happens at the end of the internship?

  • The aim of supported internships is to prepare young people with learning difficulties for employment.  As the intern has been fulfilling a real business need in your organisation, you should consider whether you can take them on as a paid member of staff at the end of their internship.
  • This won't always be possible: you may not be in a position to recruit, or the intern may not have met the required standards.  You can still play an important part in helping an intern achieve employment elsewhere, e.g. by providing a reference, recommending the intern to other employers, or giving honest feedback to the school, college or job coach about the skills and/or behaviours that the young person still needs to develop. 

Still not sure and have concerns?

Take a look at the concerns raised employers in the past and read the reassurances offered:

Employer concern


Might it affect productivity?

Employers who have offered placements have not found this to be the case. The job coach will work with the young person to ensure that they pick up the tasks required of them to make sure productivity is not affected and there is the added benefit of reduced workloads for teams.

Will it take up a lot of time for me and my staff?

Some input will be needed from you but the school/college will set that out very clearly from the start and it’s something that will be kept under review. The job coach will work with employers to ensure that it doesn’t take up too much time, providing additional support to both the young person and employer.

Are there health and safety issues?

Interns are covered by the employer’s insurance as if they were an employee. For the vast majority of interns, there will be no need for any considerations beyond those that exist for all staff. If there are particular issues, these will be discussed openly with you and strategies agreed between the school/college, employer and intern with support provided to implement any additional control measures. The school/college will do an initial assessment at the job matching stage, which should prevent interns being placed in unsuitable environments in the first place.

Do we know how to cope / communicate with a disabled person? What if we can’t manage their behaviours or meet their support needs?

The job coach can support both staff and employer to communicate effectively with the intern and provide advice on strategies for managing challenging behaviours or creating an environment which will minimise the risk of such behaviours occurring. The job coach will always be available to you, either on site or at the end of a phone, if issues/concerns are arising.

Can someone with a disability really do any of the jobs I could offer?

Employers are often surprised at just how much a person with a disability is able to do, once the right support is in place. It may also be useful to think how a specific role might be ‘carved’ for an individual if tasks were allocated differently across a team. Some employers have found productivity is increased when they take this approach (e.g. freeing up some staff from data entry work, taken on by the intern, so they can do more customer-facing activity).

What will other staff or customers / clients make of it?

The job coach can support the staff to understand the abilities and needs of the intern. It is rarely a problem for existing staff and often brings out the nurturing side of one or more colleagues who thrive in that role. Customers and clients are often pleased to see a diverse workforce, especially if it helps the workforce to better reflect the local community – and that’s any workforce that serves the general public. If issues do arise, the job coach can help negotiate solutions.

Will a job coach just get in the way and be an extra burden?

Job coaches are very skilled in making their presence as unobtrusive as possible. They are likely to be around quite a lot to start with – but this is very helpful to the employer in getting the intern trained up to do the job and ironing out any teething issues. As the intern grows more confident, the job coach will begin to withdraw their support over time, although they will continue to monitor the placement and will always be available to the intern or employer if additional support is needed (e.g. if employer introduces new or more challenging tasks).

Will I face some kind of equality / discrimination challenge if I don’t recruit the intern at the end?

Employers are not obliged to recruit the intern at the end of the internship. This is the ideal outcome but is not always possible. Employers are only expected to recruit the intern if there is a vacancy and the intern is the best candidate for the job.