A diverse workforce creates many benefits for businesses. The UK has 10 million disabled customers, which equates to 20% of all customers, with a combined annual spending power of £80 billion.
Having a disability-inclusive workforce can enable employers to understand and access this sizeable market. There are many ways in which employers can increase the number of people with disabilities in their workforce, including supported internships. Every supported internship is different, as every young person has different abilities and career aspirations.
- A supported internship is a course offered by colleges and school sixth forms throughout England to young people with learning difficulties and disabilities. They aim to help these young people achieve paid employment by giving them the skills and experience they need through learning in the workplace.
- If you are reading this, it might be because your local school or college has contacted you to ask if you would be willing to host an unpaid work placement which is intended to last for at least six months.
- Employers are equal partners in supported internships, and your role is critical to their success. The extended work placement is the most important part of a supported internship because it gives a young person with learning difficulties the chance to show that they can perform a real job in a real workplace.
- All young people and employers have support from an expert job coach. Employers do not pay for job coaches(this is arranged by the school or college). The level of support offered by each job coach will be agreed with the employer, and the input will depend on the needs of both the young person and the employer.
As an employer, you will be fully supported throughout the work placement. This will include help with:
- Shaping the placement, if you need it, with the school/college doing an initial assessment at the job matching stage, which should prevent interns being placed in unsuitable environments in the first place.
- Having the best young person 'matched' to your placement in discussion with you.
- Support from an expert job coach throughout the work placement, including on site for as long as necessary and afterwards only a phone call away; and
- Help to identify and implement reasonable adjustments for the young person, which are free to the employer (with government funding).
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