Supported internships are structured study programmes specifically designed for young people aged 16-24 with Education, Health and Care plans (or statements of SEN).
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Internships are primarily based with an employer and are intended to enable young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to develop the necessary workplace skills and experience to achieve paid sustainable employment. Internships normally last for a year, and include unpaid work placements of at least six months and support for the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme, wherever possible.
Interns also work towards the achievement of accredited qualifications and benefit from travelling to and from placements independently, working within a team setting and building their skills, confidence and ambitions by participating on the programme.
At one point, there were only 15 young people from Salford participating on supported internships, despite the majority of young people with SEN being capable of sustaining paid employment with the right preparation and support. In part, this was due to a lack of provision, which was reflected by the low proportion of adults with learning difficulties attaining paid employment, which currently stands at 2.3% compared to 6.7% nationally.
As a response a new Supported internship programme was launched in September 2018, supported and hosted by Salford City Council, in partnership with the University of Salford, Salford City College and Pure Innovations. The new programme builds on the successful delivery model that was already in operation at Salford Royal Foundation Trust for the previous six years.
The programme is delivered over the course of a full academic year (September to June), with placements rotating every eight to 12 weeks. Typically, interns will attend their placement for four days per week, with a typical day involving 1.5 hours classroom-based learning (at start or end of the day) and between three and four hours spent on placement with their host employer. The council and the university are host employers, with both organisations collectively hosting up to ten internship placements each term over the course of 2018/19 academic year.
The University of Salford provides an on-site classroom for the programme and facilitate all of the work placements during the first term (September to December). Interns will then undertake a ‘rotation’ and will carry out a second placement, hosted elsewhere within the university or by a council team or service during the second term (January to March).
The final rotation (April to June) will also be facilitated by the university or council, but will take into consideration the young person’s aspirations for paid work and the likelihood of them obtaining this outcome from their final placement. It is the responsibility of the Employment Officer to identify and match interns to suitable placements and paid employment opportunities that fit within the needs of a business.
Facilitating a supported internship programme will help the council to meet a number of corporate and strategic objectives in relation to equality and diversity, disability awareness and supporting children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The internship will also form part of the council’s emerging Talent Strategy.
In addition, there are lots of good reasons for employers to host a supported internship programme or placement. As well as promoting greater equality and diversity within the workforce, other benefits include:
Key to the programme’s success is the support offered to host managers.
A project team based on site within the council supports teams to identify, develop and host work placement opportunities. The project team is on hand to ensure there is consistent and ongoing support offered to learners and staff hosting placements. Support will also include specific training to learners in the technical elements of the role undertaken during the internship.
The project team consists of the following:
Host managers are expected to identify a placement and work with the Employment Officer to identify key tasks for the intern(s) to carry out whilst on placement. Host manager are also expected to:
The type of placements required will depend on the interests and abilities of the young people involved. Typically interns are particularly interested in placements with administration type duties, manual type duties or roles where the type of work is reoccurring in its nature.
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