Supported Internships

In line with the government’s National Disability Strategy, East Durham College is committed to improving the everyday lives of disabled people. We want all young people, no matter what their special educational needs or disability (SEND), to be able to reach their full potential and receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life.

Supported internships are a great opportunity to improve the life chances of young people with SEND by supporting them into sustained, paid employment. Achieving paid employment not only brings young people financial independence, but it can be key to:

  • Building confidence and self-esteem
  • Increasing health and well-being
  • Gaining friendships and a social life

What is a Supported Internship?

A supported internships is a study programme aimed at young people, aged between 16 to 24, who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and would like to move into employment but may need extra support to do so.

The overwhelming majority of young people with SEND are capable of sustainable employment. Supported Internships are aimed to equip learners with the skills and experience to achieve employment after college.

Our programme includes maths, English and career development skills which are tailored to the young person to remove any barriers to employment, along with a work placement with an employer.

The supported internship is for learners who are at the end of their educational journey and ready to move into employment with support. On completion of the supported internship your EHCP may cease.

A group of people checking bus times at a bus stop

What a Supported Internship Can Do for a Young Person

The aim of a supported internship is to help young people to achieve future employment.

  • The supported internship will support learners to understand what it’s like to have a real job role and what the employer expects from them.
  • A job coach from the college will support the learner throughout their work experience placement.
  • They will help identify any reasonable adjustments that the employer may need to make. Students can contact them at any time if you have any issues during their time at work.
  • It will help break down any barriers learners have to gaining employment, such as travelling independently, managing their own money, etc.
  • It will give learners valuable skills and experience to put on their CV.
  • And improve those all important maths and English skills employers value so highly.

Typical Week for Students Completing a Supported Internship

Students on a supported internship can expect to generally do the following during the week:

  • Initially, the Supported Internship is likely to start as a half day, building up to two full working days per week
  • In addition, students will attend maths, English and employability lessons for two days per week at college
  • Supported internships last for a minimum of 36 weeks
  • Supported internships are unpaid. However, after successful completion the employer may take the learner on as a paid employee. Otherwise, they can provide a reference and the learner will be in a much better position to find paid work elsewhere

If you would like more details on the supported internship programme, our specialist staff are on hand to guide you through every stage of the process.

To discuss more details, please call Lauren Carr, the College’s Supported Internship Coordinator, on 07775 741 533 or email

Employer Information

Two young male students in a garden centre, one pushing a trolley of plants, the other carrying plants

Are You a Local Employer? Work with EDC to Help Deliver Supported Internships and Change a Young Person's Life!

At East Durham College, we are always looking to work closely with local employers who can help us deliver supported internships. 

With your support, you could help a young person to grow and adapt to the world of work. The overall aims of supported internships are:

  • Achieve sustainable, paid employment in the long run
  • Develop the skills valued by employers and enabling them to display their value in the workplace
  • Raise their aspirations and see they can be a valued member of the team
  • Challenge and change an employer's perception towards employing people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities
  • Improve an intern's maths and English skills and employability skills including digital skills, money handling, interacting with customers and the skills and behaviours needed for the workplace
  • To help the young person become a confident independent traveller who can commute to work

What is an Education Health Care Plan (ECHP)?

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) describes a child or young person’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) and identifies educational, health and social needs as well as setting out the additional support required to meet those needs.

An EHCP also includes any health and care provision that is needed. It is a legal document, written by the local authority, and is intended to ensure that children and young people (up to the age of 25) with an EHCP receive the support they need.

This will also include any career aspirations, goals and ambitions the person may wish to achieve in the future. EHCPs are for children and young people who have a special educational need or disability that cannot be met by the standard support that is available at their school or college.

Benefits to Employers Taking on Supported Interns

There are many reasons why you could consider supporting a young person with an internship programme, including:

  • Supported internships are very high on the Government's agenda
  • Building confidence in appropriate language and supporting disabled customers and employees
  • Become a Disability Confident employer
  • Disability Awareness Training to help build confidence and understanding
  • Access to a suite of online learning materials, including Understanding Autism Level 2 and 3
  • Ongoing support and advice from the college on diverse recruitment
  • The purple pound is the spending power of disabled people and their families. The purple pound is worth £212 billion per year in the UK. By offering a Supported Internship employers will gain an insight into ways to engage with disabled clients/customers. Research indicates that organisations are losing an estimated £2 billion per month due to accessibility of their services
  • In-work training provided by a job coach
  • The programme incurs no financial cost to the employer

What We Need From You as an Employer

  • We will work with the employer to explore possible job roles and support to create an achievable job description
  • A meaningful work placement for up to 12 hours per week for 36 weeks
  • A workplace mentor who can guide and support the young person
  • To take part in monthly reviews, providing feedback of how the young person is doing and what they have achieved on their work placement

Induction & Settling In

It is important for an intern to be offered an induction to the workplace and for the job coach to negotiate with the employer some form of settling in period, where both intern and employer are offered extensive support.

It is often appropriate to begin the induction period before an intern formally starts in their role.

Useful activities can include:

  • A visit by the intern with a job coach to show them around the work environment
  • Face-to-face meetings between the employer, college staff and job coach to discuss the structure of the programme and the needs of the individual intern (with or without the intern present)
  • The intern to attend the workplace to shadow a colleague in a similar job role for one or two day
  • Induction might also include an employer’s standard induction processes for all staff, with the job coach adjusting elements to ensure accessibility and/or providing additional information.

Training Needs Analysis and Role of the Job Coach

The job coach will work very closely with both the employer and the intern during the initial training period. In particular, the job coach will need to understand the tasks and responsibilities of the intern’s role and the standards expected.

The job coach may then support the intern through a training programme led either by the employer, or in discussion with the employer, or undertake the training requirements themselves and devise an approach to deliver the training to match both the employer’s needs and the intern’s preferred learning style.

Cross-referencing the information about the job, gained from job analysis, with details about the learner’s abilities, which are acquired through vocational profiling, gives the job coach an idea of the skills gap they will need to address during the internship placement.

As the young person adjusts to a new environment and new responsibilities, ‘teething problems’ may occur (e.g. an intern struggling with punctuality or wearing the incorrect clothing). During this period, the job coach may need to apply their negotiation skills to ensure that the employer allows the intern the time required to adapt to the job role, whilst impressing on the intern the need to meet the basic requirements of the role and supporting them to do so within agreed timescales.

Whilst determining any reasonable adjustments needed, is likely to be a factor at the job matching stage, in the first few weeks of a placement, that the job coach may need to provide the employer with support in implementing these adjustments in a way that works for both intern and employer. This initial period in the workplace also provides an opportunity for the job coach to support the intern’s colleagues and line manager to understand the specific needs and abilities of the intern.

Working in Partnership with EDC

If you would like more details on the supported internship programme, our specialist staff are on hand to guide you through every stage of the process.

To discuss more details or request an appointment, please call Lauren Carr, the College’s Supported Internship Coordinator, on 07775 741 533 or email