Change that leads to better lives

Life-changing internships project set to help more disabled people into work

4500 16-25 year olds with special educational needs and disabilities in England are set to benefit from a new, life changing, supported internships programme per year by 2025.

IW project image general

Internships Work is a brand new collaboration between the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), British Association of Supported Employment (BASE) and DFN Project SEARCH.

The Department for Education funded programme is designed to support more young people with additional needs to have greater choice and control over opportunities that prepare them for adult life and enable them to gain long-term meaningful employment. Currently, only 5.1% of people with special educational needs and disabilities gain permanent paid employment in the UK, compared to 80% of their peers.

Project lead, Julie Pointer at NDTi said:

“I truly believe everyone with additional needs can work if they want to. With the right support in place for them and their employer, the benefits for both are huge.

“An internship opens up life changing opportunities to the young people who participate. It’s more than just a job, providing independence, enabling them to contribute to the economy and making them a valued part of the community.”

Brian works as an engineer at the Marriott Hotel, originally starting as an intern on the DFN Project SEARCH programme:

“Getting this opportunity to work has made me more confident and I no longer see myself as a person with learning difficulties. I’m now someone who can, for example, pick up the phone and sort out a problem. I get up in the morning and I want to go to work. I enjoy every minute of it.”

Minister for School Standards, Will Quince, said:

“It’s really encouraging to see the positive impact that Supported Internships are already having for thousands of young people across the country.

“This programme provides the opportunity for young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to have a successful career, and I am looking forward to seeing more and more young people benefit from it.”

Linda Hawkins, HR Director for Marriott Hotels, said:

“All the interns gain key employability skills, interpersonal skills which will help them for any role. And, for us, we have new team members that are enthusiastic and motivated to succeed, adding to a more diverse workforce.”

Claire Cookson, Chief Executive Officer at DFN Project SEARCH, said:

“We’re delighted to be a part of the Internships Work programme, which will help break down the barriers and misconceptions that young adults with learning disabilities or autism spectrum conditions face daily around access to employment. Through our wealth of data and first-hand insight, our aim is to improve best practice across the board, showcasing the amazing talent these young adults have, and how policy needs to change to encourage the best form of inclusive recruitment.”

Laura Davis, Chief Executive at BASE, said:

“Having already developed the Supported Employment Quality Framework, this project provides an exciting opportunity to embed and further shape quality within Supported Internships. The team looks forward to working with Supported Internships providers across England to pilot and improve the Supported Internship Quality Framework to support the sector to achieve the best employment outcomes for young people, because ultimately that's what it is all about.”

Paul Marshall, Chief Executive at NDTi, said:

“I am so pleased that alongside our partners at BASE and DFN Project SEARCH, NDTi will be working with areas across England to help them drive supported internships and ultimately, jobs. The contribution and opportunity employment provides toward living a full and independent life is huge and we are so excited to be able to help support those outcomes.”

More information can be found at

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