Inclusive Offer

What are supported internships?

Supported internships are for young people with a learning difficulty or disability. They help them to develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed for them to get into work.

These programmes run for one academic year and is a partnership between the college and the employer.

We know that all young people face challenges in finding employment. For young people with SEND however, finding a job is even more complex. Just 6% are in paid employment despite the fact that 6 5% want to work (Health and Social Care Information Centre, Annual Report 2015/16).

On the job work and supported internships can help.  These are all ways of helping young people with SEND to move from education into employment. Alongside time with the employer, young people complete a tailored study programme. This includes the chance to study for substantial qualifications, if needed, as well as English and maths.

The business case

Finding new ways to inspire, recruit, retain and engage employees is vital for all businesses.

Many young people want to work. Nearly every business has roles that are suitable for a young person with a disability. This may free up employees to focus on other business areas. Supported internships are good for your business because:

  • Young people with disabilities are loyal, committed employees.
  • Employee engagement rises – helping others brings the best out of people.
  • Customers are inspired and value what you contribute to their community.
  • Stakeholders view you favourably and your business reputation is increased.
  • Employees have increased confidence and awareness.
  • There are more leadership and coaching skills options.
  • You'll discover skill levels that don’t exist in normal talent pools.

Supported internships are unpaid because the student is in full-time education. They last for a minimum of six months. Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. We understand this might not always be possible, but it will equip students with valuable experience. It will also provide them with a reference when applying for future employment and develop confidence and competence in work.


Experienced job coaches attend the internship with the young person.  This happens until they're confident and competent enough to do the work on their own.

This support can be in place for anything from a few weeks to the end of the work placement.  This depends on the person’s needs.

Our partners

We're proud to partner with Barnsley College and Barnsley Hospital to support our first DFN Project Search. The ten interns are doing really well and most have already secured paid employment.

The project supports young people aged 17-24 with autism and extra learning needs to take steps towards securing meaningful, long-term employment.

DFN Project Search

Get involved

Read more about the supported internship programme and find out who to contact if you'd like to get involved.

What our DFN Project Search interns say...

  • In the joinery team, we do things like repairing broken doors, fitting locks, mending windows and any other tasks which are required. We often work on wards so I’m gaining skills around interaction with patients and hospital staff too. I’m enjoying my placement and would like to be employed in this area as it’s busy and varied; no two days are the same. I enjoy the hands-on, active work and being a part of a strong team with a good work ethic.
    Reece Crossley - DFN Project Search Intern
  • I’m assisting with the distribution of deliveries around Barnsley Hospital in the stores area. I also check and maintain stock rooms, to ensure certain areas are well stocked for clinics. I’m developing skills in talking to people,. Also moving and handling, and stock counting, which can take quite a while in busier areas. I am keen to follow a career path in this area or portering. I enjoy hands on work where I can be busy with a physical task.
    Jak Durose - DFN Project Search intern
  • I’m working in the portering department at Barnsley Hospital learning everything there is to know about the role. After the project I would like to get paid work, ideally in portering. The team here are friendly and hardworking, and the job is varied. I enjoy working as part of the team I’m in. This would be the ideal role for me and my skills as I enjoy hands-on, active work.
    Corey O'Brien - DFN Project Search intern
  • In the sterile services department, I undertake a variety of tasks, including assisting with the sterilisation and the preparation of equipment so it is ready to go back out and to be used in theatres or wards. Our service is essential to the health and safety of patients as the equipment we use is directed to patients daily. I work alongside skilled team members and have been improving so I’m independently able to create packs and follow log sheets. I would like to find work in these areas as the sterilisation process fascinates me and there is so much to learn about the equipment and processes involved
    Drew Foxcroft - DFN Project Search intern
  • In my role with the play leaders on the children’s ward, children’s emergency department and clinics, I’m involved with sterilising and maintaining play areas. I’m also assisting and observing distraction therapy whilst clinics are running, maintaining ward hygiene, and assisting with the preparation of sheets and bedding. I’ve learned about COVID-19 legislation and the PPE relevant to this, along with the ‘bare below the elbow’ policy and how essential this is to the safety of staff and patients in the hospital. I hope to gain employment in this area and I’m keen to start my next rotation with the environment co-ordinator team.
    Skyla Chandler - DFN Project Search intern
  • I work with the waste management section of the portering team. I’m involved with checking the waste which comes into the compound. I also dispose of this waste in the proper areas, and am aware of contamination. I also have other duties like driving the tugs around the hospital. I would like to be employed in this area as the job role is hands-on. Also the staff have a good working sense of humour in their tasks. Although they are busy, they know how to have fun which makes it a nice environment.
    Connor Chappell - DFN Project Search intern