Press release: Young people with SEND to benefit from £5 million work scheme

Young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will be helped to make the difficult transition from school to the professional world thanks to a new £5 million government initiative, announced today (12 March 2015).

People with the most severe forms of SEND can find it difficult to enter the world of work, with an employment rate as low as 7%. However, a government trial of supported internships resulted in 36% of students with SEND gaining paid employment. Today’s funding will help thousands more young people receive this life-changing support.

Local authorities will use the money to create relationships with employers, establish employment services and help schools to offer high-quality preparation for employment.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson MP marked the announcement by visiting Mencap offices in central London today to meet people who will benefit from the announcement.

Edward Timpson said:

It’s absolutely vital that young people with special educational needs and disabilities are supported through the often difficult transition from school into work.

The £5 million announced today will mean many more talented young people in supported internships and work placements, helping them make that first step onto the career ladder.

To mark the announcement, the minister took part in a ‘roundtable’ with 25 people including young adults who have completed supported internships, staff from Mencap and representatives from companies who take on young people with special needs, including KPMG, National Grid and McDonald’s.

Mark Capper, Head of Employer Engagement at Mencap, said:

People with a learning disability have the lowest employment rate amongst disabled people. Just 7% of people with a learning disability have a paid job, yet around 80% can work.

Many barriers stop people with a learning disability securing a job, from a lack of work experience opportunities, through to the often negative attitudes of employers and a lack of accessible information.

We see people with a learning disability succeed in employment with the right support. This includes support not only to find work, but to develop in their role once they are employed. We welcome any initiative that will give people the skills, confidence and opportunities they need to move into the workplace.

KPMG’s programme to support young adults with SEND into paid employment has recently resulted in former supported intern Josh Bingham being offered a full-time job at his client hospitality placement with contractor Restaurant Associates.

Matt Wood, Director of Operations at Restaurant Associates, said:

Josh was truly wonderful throughout his internship, and I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that we have now offered him a position within our team. We can’t wait for him to join us in a permanent capacity from next month.

The government’s wider SEND reforms have extended rights and protection to young people and introduce a new education, health and care plan which reflects the aspirations of young people and the outcomes they want to achieve. It helps them prepare for adult life, including employment and independent living.

Notes to editors

Local authorities can use the £5 million funding to:

  • increase the number of education providers offering supported internships, resulting in more young people with complex SEND getting work placements and ultimately entering paid employment
  • build relationships with employers to agree work placements for young people with SEND on supported internships and other study programmes
  • support and challenge education providers to improve preparation for employment in study programmes for all young people with SEND

DfE will distribute the money amongst all local authorities, but top-slice £135,000 to divide between the 9 regional support leads (£15,000 each) to coordinate activities at a regional level.

DfE‘s delivery partner, Mott MacDonald, will offer support within their 2014 to 2015 contract to these local authorities to develop their delivery plans.

Present at the Mencap ‘roundtable’ were representatives from Mencap, McDonald’s, London Councils, KPMG, Action on Disability, Remploy and National Grid.

DfE enquiries

Central newsdesk
020 7783 8300

General enquiries
0370 000 2288

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