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Internships and Supported Internships

An internship is another name for a work placement, or work experience, with an employer. 

Some interns are employed by a company and receive regular pay. Other interns are volunteers gaining valuable work experience as a stepping stone to the job they want. 

Interns are not entitled to National Minimum wage if your company employs them:

  • For less than one year
  • Through a further education college

An intern will also not be paid, except for limited benefits, if they are completing their internship as a volunteer through:

  • A charity
  • Voluntary organisation
  • Fund-raising body
  • Statutory body

Examples of limited benefits include travel or lunch expenses. 

Supported Internships 

A Supported Internship is a college programme. It helps young people aged 16-24 with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) into the world of work. 

This unpaid internship is a six-month study programme through a local college via a job coach. One part of the job coach's role is to understand your organisation's goals and objectives including how you achieve them. This knowledge helps the job coach match the young person with the right employer.

The job coach will help the young person gain the skills and experience they need to get a job. All employers can sign up to offer a Supported Internship. It does not matter whether your organisation is large, like a hospital, or a small local business. 

During the Supported Internship, the young person with SEND will spend at least six months in an unpaid work placement with an organisation like yours. They will also attend college to complete a personal study programme.  

A Supported Internship is very similar to a traineeship or apprenticeship. This means your intern will be ready to work when they've completed the programme. The main difference is that your organisation, and the intern, will be offered a higher level of support than a trainee or apprentice. 

After six months, we hope that employers will offer their intern a paid role so they can begin their first full-time job. Other outcomes for your business may include: 

  • Working with the right person. Your intern's skills and interests will be matched to the role, so you'll know they're right for the job before they join. 
  • Becoming more inclusive and reducing stigma. Your team will gain valuable experience in interacting with SEND customers or colleagues.  
  • Reducing costs. While an apprentice would need a salary, an unpaid intern is supported by the college to learn on the job, similar to work experience.  
  • Being more flexible. Your intern's working hours can be adapted to suit your business and their goals. 
  • Improving your Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) targets. Enhance your reputation among customers, businesses, and the public. 

Local colleges that currently take part in our Supported Internships programme include: 

To find out more contact Pamela Birt, SEND Employment Officer at Norfolk County Council, to discuss.  

Email or call 01603 224 039. 

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