Could Your Business Offer a Supported Internship?
Message from West Lea School
West Lea is a special school in North London committed to helping students (aged from 4 up to 25 years with additional needs) become independent members of our community. We love what we do and are passionate about making sure our students get the same chances in life as their peers in mainstream education. We deliver Supported Internships (for 16-24 year olds) on behalf of the London Borough of Enfield, as part of a national government strategy, to support businesses to employ more young people with learning difficulties and disabilities. The way this works is that businesses get an Intern who has been specifically matched to a particular role or area within their organisation as well as the support of an experienced Job Coach. Job Coaches are on hand to support the Interns with learning their tasks so that it doesn’t affect productivity. They also help empower and equip the current workforce to work effectively with someone with special needs. We can provide formal training for current staff. Businesses take on an Intern for anywhere between 12 and 20 hours a week with a view to offering them paid employment once they are ready.
We make use of Job carving – this is key to successfully creating roles which increase capacity and productivity in the skilled workforce to ensure organisations gain real business benefits whilst taking into account the needs of the Intern. There are a number of benefits associated with engaging on our programme and diversifying the workforce, for example boosting morale and increasing staff retention, which I would love the opportunity to share in more detail with you. Our service is completely free, we provide support throughout the duration of the programme and we are looking for partners across a range of sectors and industries. Currently only 5% of adults with learning disabilities are in any form of paid employment which means they are leaving school and going on to claim benefit when the majority of them want to work and are able to work. This programme is the only one that offers as much support to businesses and currently 90% of Interns have been successful in their work placements and have moved into paid employment with their employer.
If you’re interested in growing your business, giving opportunities to young people and you have a safe and friendly environment at work then you are right for this programme! All you need is employer’s liability insurance, the willingness to try something new and a positive attitude towards inclusion at work.