A group of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are benefiting from a pioneering internship initiative to help them transition from school to the professional world. They shared their success with Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson.
The EmployAbility scheme is run by National Grid in Leamington Spa. The scheme invited 12 young people with SEND in the final year of education to spend time learning skills and gaining confidence in the workplace. Participants have gained experience through a variety of opportunities, including working in customer liaison and on National Grid’s social media channels.
They were joined in the office today (12 January 2015) by Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who has responsibilities for SEND reform. He met the 12 young people currently taking part in the EmployAbility scheme and 4 previous interns who have now found full-time employment at National Grid.
The initiative to help young people into employment complements the SEND reforms in the Children and Families Act which came into effect in September 2014. The reforms enable support to be provided for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities up to 25 years of age.
Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, said:
Too many talented young people have been left in limbo in the past. That’s why I want to see more supported internships and work placements like this to offer a first step onto the career ladder.
It’s absolutely vital young people with SEND are supported in the transition to the workplace when they finish education. We want to help young people develop the best skills to succeed in the global race.
National Grid’s initiative fits in with what we are trying to achieve through our SEND reforms - to help children with additional needs to achieve their best by putting their needs at the centre of the system.
The government’s SEND reforms have extended rights and protection to young people and introduced a new education, health and care plan that 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.
Professionals are also providing more tailored support to families, giving them the help and assistance they need. National Grid has witnessed the benefit of the scheme already, with 4 of last year’s cohort of interns now having paid jobs.
Dr Emma FitzGerald, head of National Grid’s gas distribution business, where many of this year’s interns are working, said:
The results we’ve seen from EmployAbility have been amazing. Students are quick to fit in to their job roles, their self-belief grows, as do their aspirations. Their National Grid internship becomes the first item on their CV and demonstrates that they can operate in a business environment.
We’re keen to see EmployAbility expand and grow within National Grid but we also want to encourage other businesses to offer similar opportunities to young people with disabilities.
For more information about National Grid’s initiative visit the EmployAbility website.