Supported internships were introduced to give a greater focus on preparing young people with special educational needs and disabilities with the skills needed for adulthood and employment. Supported internships are structured study programmes aimed at young people (aged 16-24) with an Education Health and Care plan to gain experience within a supported environment based primarily on site at an employer. They provide a platform for young people to achieve sustainable employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work through learning in the workplace. 

Supported internships are unpaid and wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. During their time with the employer, supported interns spend one to two days a week at Middlesbrough College learning employability skills along with English and maths qualifications. 

Want to take on a Supported Internship? Call 01642 333887

Supported internships can benefit your business in the following ways: 

  • No additional cost to you– each supported internship is government funded. 

  • Acts as an extended working interview, giving an increased chance of getting the right person for the job. 

  • Provides a workforce that better represents the wider community it serves. 

  • Interns may have skills currently lacking in existing staff. 

  • Many of our learners enjoy having a routine and have little issue with completing repetitive tasks.  

  • A none complex training model that provides minimal impact on the learner and employer. 

  • Enthusiastic workers. 

  • Interns may have access to a work coach, allowing the employer to carry on their duties as the intern works independently with the support of the work coach. 

  • Gives the employer the confidence to employ people with learning difficulties or disabilities, helping the business to meet their Equality and Diversity requirements, by removing barriers to employment. 

There is no financial cost to an employer taking on a supported intern. Young people taking part in a supported internship placement are unpaid as it is part of their programme of study at College.  

The funding for the Job Coach and any reasonable adjustments required will be managed by Middlesbrough College directly with the relevant funding bodies. 

The College and Job Coach will work with the employer to arrange the induction and settling in period, and provide as much support as is needed during this time. They will support with any reasonable adjustments needed - these often cost nothing and can benefit other employees too.

As the young person becomes more able, the Job Coach will gradually withdraw their support, but an employer will still be able to contact them or Middlesbrough College at any time if issues arise. 


  • A valid Employers Liability Insurance document and evidence of up-to-date Health and Safety procedures. 

  • Businesses need to commit to providing a high-quality work experience opportunity, which is substantial and meaningful for the young person. 

  • The supported internship placement length is flexible to account for both the employers and the intern’s needs ranging from 6 weeks to 10 months with two days off per week for study leave.  

  • You will need to provide effective line management and supervision of the intern and a work buddy or mentor should be allocated to them. 

  • The placement should enable the interns to develop new skills and behaviours, engage in purposeful work-related learning, and have the confidence to take the first step in their career to secure a traineeship, apprenticeship, or other employment. 

At Middlesbrough College we work with our young people to find out their interests, their career goals and aim to find a work placement to match their interests and abilities. We will work with employers to identify suitable work tasks for the supported intern to complete that will help the business.

The Job Coach will also work with you and the young person to identify their strengths in the workplace and areas for improvement, an intern can work on tasks to help other employers which then free’s up resource for the wider workforce. Employers have fed back to us that they have finally had time to catch up on mounting workloads with the additional help received.  

Every effort will have been made to match your business with the most suitable young person, but if something goes wrong, the Job Coach should be your first point of contact to resolve any issues. It may be a skills gap, a difference in expectations between the intern and employer, a behaviour concern or simply a misunderstanding by the young person or employer.

Middlesbrough College and our qualified work coaches will work with you to resolve any issues and if necessary, look at bringing the placement to an end with a discussion to looking at placing a different student. 

Although employers are not required to provide a job at the end of the internship, the aim of supported internships is to prepare young people with learning difficulties for employment. As the intern will have been fulfilling a real business need in your organisation, you should consider whether you can take them on as a paid member of staff at the end of their internship.

If you are not in a position to recruit or the intern hasn’t met the required standards, employers can still play a role in providing a reference and feedback to the College. Once the young person has completed their placement, they will continue to be supported by Middlesbrough College to find meaningful employment based on the skills they have gained as a result of their internship. 

Taking Ryan Higher

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