Supported internships are work-based learning programs designed to help young people with learning difficulties and autism transition into employment. These programs are usually unpaid and an EHCP is required to be eligible, but they provide on-the-job training and support to help individuals develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the workplace. However, making internships work effectively can be a challenge, as these programs require a significant amount of coordination and support from both the employer and the educational institution.

In 2022, the DFE announced plans to improve supported internships backed by an £18 million initiative over three years, to drive up the standards and quality of internship delivery across the country for students who have an education, health and care plan.

However, since their inception in the 2014 reforms, take up has been less than enthusiastic and only one in four young people are still in work a year after their internship has ended.

One key to making supported internships work is finding the right employer. It is important to identify companies that are willing to provide the necessary support and accommodations for individuals with learning difficulties and autism. This may include providing additional training and supervision, as well as making physical adjustments to the workplace to meet the needs of the intern.

Another crucial aspect to making this system work is providing the right level of support to the individual. This may involve assigning a job coach or mentor to provide guidance and assistance, as well as working with the intern to develop an individualized support plan. This plan should outline the specific goals and objectives for the internship, as well as the supports and accommodations that will be provided.

Effective communication is also essential for the creation of successful supported internships. It is important to keep all parties involved in the process, including the intern, the employer, and the educational institution, informed and updated on all progress. Regular meetings and check-ins can help ensure that any issues or concerns are addressed in a timely manner.

Overall, making supported internships work requires a strong commitment from all parties involved. By finding the right employer, providing the right level of support, and maintaining effective communication, young people with SEND and autism can thrive in these programs and gain valuable experience and skills that will help them succeed in the workforce.

For further information about supported internships and the organisations to contact for help and advice, please click on the links below:

Home – DFN Project Search

Home | British Association for Supported Employment (

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