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Guide to getting into paid work for 16 to 25 year olds with special educational needs or disabilities

Guide to getting into paid work for 16 to 25 year olds with SEND

1. Your options

This guide provides information about options for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to help them move into paid employment.

The law says that all young people must be in education or training until at least their 18th birthday. This might be:

  • full time education in a study programme for young people over 16 (including a supported internship)
  • volunteering or a paid job, with part-time study
  • a traineeship

2. Supported internships

Supported internships are for young people with learning difficulties, aged 18 to 24 who have an EHC plan.
 
It is a type of study programme that helps young people with learning difficulties or disabilities to learn the skills they need to get a job. What makes it different is that young people do most of their learning at work on the job. 

What a supported internship involves

A supported internship will last at least six months. Young people won’t get paid, but they should be ready to find a paid job at the end because of the skills they gain. 
 
A supported internship is personalised to the needs of your child. They don’t need any qualifications to do one, but commitment to find paid employment is very important. 
 
Your child may also study for qualifications that will help them move into work, as well as English or maths if they don’t have a grade C or four at GCSE.
 
Visit the Preparing for Adulthood website for more information about supported internships.
 
 
Where you can do a supported internship in Bristol
 
Your child can do a supported internship in Bristol with:

Who can help your child choose the most suitable internship

 
Your school SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) will be able to talk to you and your child to see what kind of supported internship might be right for them. 
 

3. Traineeships

A traineeship:

  • is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship 
  • can last up to six months
  • offers young people support to improve their Maths and English alongside training

You don’t need an EHC plan to do a traineeship.

If your child has an EHC plan:

  • it stays with them while they’re doing a traineeship
  • the provider of the traineeship will be named in the plan and they must meet the needs specified in your child’s plan

Young people can apply if they:

  • are aged between 16 and 24 
  • are qualified below Level three (below A level)
  • have limited work experience 

Where you can find out more about traineeships

GOV.UK’s Get in, Go Far website explains how to get onto a traineeship.

Search for a traineeship near you on the GOV.UK website, which also has information to help your child decide if they might be suitable.

You can also contact your local college or training provider to see if they’re offering traineeship opportunities.

4. Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships:

  • generally combine training in a job with study
  • are available at different levels, from level two to seven
  • can take between one and five years to complete, depending on the level 

Apprentices work alongside experienced staff and earn a wage.

EHC plans

If your child has an EHC plan, they can keep it while on an apprenticeship. The provider of the apprenticeship will be named in your child’s plan and this will be reviewed annually. 

In some cases, the provider can apply to the Education Skills and Funding Agency directly for funding, such as if they can’t pay for your child’s additional needs through core funding.

How to apply

Your child can apply for an apprenticeship while they’re still at school or when they’re in college. To start one, they’ll need to be:

  • 16 or over by the end of the summer holidays
  • living in England
  • not in full time education

Apprenticeships are advertised through:

Disability Rights UK had written a guide on apprenticeships for disabled people.

More information 

Read our Guide to apprenticeships.

The GOV.UK website has more information on apprenticeships.

 

5. Volunteering

Volunteering means giving your time and skills to help others without being paid. It could help your child gain experience so they’re able to get a job.

Scope has information on the benefits of volunteering.

How to find volunteering opportunities

Your child can find work experience or volunteering placements by contacting the organisation or workplace they’d like to volunteer with.  
Whizz Kidz can help you find work placements and work skills days if your child uses a wheelchair .

Volunteer Bristol has information on volunteering opportunities in Bristol.

What support your child can get on a volunteering placement

If your child is disabled, their rights are protected under the Equalities Act 2010. This means an organisation should not discriminate against them based on their disability and should consider how they can make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them in a volunteer placement.

6. Funding for disabled students

Young people with a disability or health condition who are on or about to start a work experience placement in a support internship or traineeship can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions’ Access to Work fund for:

  • funding travel to and from their work placement
  • the costs of job coaches
  • specialist equipment for days that a young person is at the employer’s workplace

The Preparing for adulthood website has more information about the Access to work grant. 

Bursaries of up to £1200 are also available for students in further education, training or unpaid apprenticeships. The GOV.UK website has information on what’s available, eligibility and how to apply. 

Personal independence payment (PIP) is for people who need help taking part in everyday life or who find it difficult to get around. 

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