Campaign seeks SENDsational employers to provide work opportunities for young people with special needs

Connor (left) is on a Supported Internship with Sainsbury's in Bury St Edmunds

Connor (left) is on a Supported Internship with Sainsbury's in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council has launched a campaign to find high quality workplace opportunities for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Connor is currently completing a wrk experience placement at Sainsbury's in Bury St Edmunds

Connor is currently completing a wrk experience placement at Sainsbury's in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

The authority says there are approximately 5,000 16-24 year olds in Suffolk with some form of learning difficulty or disability and that the “overwhelming majority” of these are capable of sustainable paid employment with the right preparation and support, and are keen to do so.

The campaign, being run in partnership with local further education and sixth form colleges and independent training providers, kicked off with a breakfast meeting for employers at Suffolk One last week.

Over 30 businesses attended the launch to find out about the benefits and barriers to offering work experience, traineeships or supported internships to young people. They included Tesco, Ipswich Veterinary Centre, Suffolk Police, St Elizabeth Hospice and Realise Futures.

Andrea Wood, head of the Skills Team, at Suffolk County Council said the authority is particularly interested in the development of more supported internships, which are work-based study programmes for young people age 16 to 24 years.


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She added: “The intended outcome of this initiative is to support more young people to progress into paid employment and a key element to the success of these programmes is high levels of employer involvement. We are particularly keen to support employers and providers to develop these programmes across the county.”

Sainsburys in Bury St Edmunds is one employer already supporting young people with special needs into work.

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Currently 18 year old Connor is completing a 12-week work experience placement at the store where he works once a week.

Learning and development manager from Sainsbury’s, Bronte Perry said: “There are lots of benefits - colleagues with a learning difficulty are generally more reliable, their absence form work is lower, and they have higher job satisfaction.”

If you want to be a SENDsational employer and offer SENDsational opportunities to SENDsational young people, please contact sendsational@suffolk.gov.uk or visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/business-jobs-and-careers/sendsational-opportunities

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