Supported internships - Michael's story
Michael's story of how a supported internship helped him to get a paid job
Introduction and background
Everyone has the right to work but people with learning disabilities are not always given the right opportunities to realise their potential. According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, only 7% of people with a learning disability are currently in paid employment, despite the UK's unemployment rate being less than 8%.
There are different pathways to getting a job, and supported internships offer one way for those people with a learning disability who face the most significant barriers to getting a paid job and a sustainable career. A supported internship is a study programme designed for young people with either a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). It is based mainly on employers' premises, with some time in college or a classroom in the workplace. Support throughout the study programme is provided to both the young person and the employer through a Job Coach. Supported internships should lead to a job for the young person at the end of their programme and should meet a real business need for the employer.
Salford College began delivering a supported internship programme in partnership with Pure Innovations, Salford Royal Hospital and Salford Council from September 2012. This is offered as a one-year course, four days per week, and is delivered entirely at Salford Royal Hospital. The hospital provides a classroom, which can be used daily, and each young person experiences working in three different job roles at the hospital. Each placement is matched and tailored to the young person using person-centred planning techniques. The placements focus not only on learning the tasks and skills but also on workplace behaviour, building confidence, personal accountability and responsibility. The majority of young peoples' time is spent on their placements, with one and a half hours per day in the classroom.
Young people are supported to obtain the Open Awards Certificate in Getting on at Work. There is a tutor and job coaches from Salford College and Pure Innovations to support both the young people and the employer.
This case study outlines the story of a young man with a learning disability who successfully completed a supported internship with Salford College. He is now in paid employment, and is an ambassador for the programme.
In September 2013, Michael started on the supported internship programme. Before this Michael attended Salford City College and completed a work skills course. He chose to apply for the Salford Internship as, after completing the work skills course, he decided he wanted paid employment but needed some help to find a suitable job.
When Michael first started on the project he had very little confidence and his motivation was extremely low. Due to previously having been bullied, Michael found it hard to interact with peers and his self-esteem was very low. His first placement was in the Pharmacy Department picking stock from the warehouse and loading cages ready for the porters to deliver to the wards. He had support from a Job Coach who stayed with him until both he and the employer were comfortable that he could work independently.
Michael's second placement was with the Information Management and Technology Department. Again, he had support from a Job Coach who stayed with him until both he and the employer were comfortable that he could work independently. This department was so impressed with Michael that he was offered paid employment by his manager. Michael is carrying on with his course whilst he gains some more experience in the department and is due to start paid employment when the course ends.
Michael's role involves logging all new and decommissioned equipment coming in and out of the hospital. Michael also builds computer carts, which are used by the medical staff on the wards. He also assists other members of staff when new equipment needs moving and installing around the hospital. Michael has learnt all these new skills on his placements, and has become a valued member of the team.
Michael's confidence was extremely low when he started on the Internship and wanted to avoid a customer facing role. Over time his confidence grew with the help of the internship staff and the I.T team he was working with. Michael soon began to realise his own abilities and thrived on the fact he had found a job that he could do really well and felt a valued member of the team. Now he interacts with team extremely well and is happy meeting other Salford Royal staff or customers while he is out around the hospital completing his job role.
Michael has gained paid employment in a role which he thoroughly enjoys. He has gone from a withdrawn, extremely quiet person to a young man who is growing in confidence and takes pride in attending work every day. His family are over the moon with the achievements he has made.
When Michael was asked what he thought of Salford Internship he replied, "Brilliant, beneficial and worthwhile. I'm glad I came on it!"
Michael's confidence has improved now to such an extent that he has returned to the college to give a presentation to other young people who may be interested in applying in the future, and is a strong ambassador for the programme.