Employment for young people with SEND

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Finding employment and entering the world of work is something many of us wish to do.

Once you are 16 years old, there are many opportunities available to support you with your future. Some jobs require certain qualifications such as English and maths before you start, whilst some allow you to learn on the job.

Your job options

It may be that you not ready to start a full time job, and you want to gain skills to help you progress. Here are some alternative choices and support available:


An apprenticeship is a paid job while you earn and learn, building useful experience. During your time, you will spend about four days as an apprentice and one day at a college, training centre or at your place of work. You will learn what you need to do 'off the job'. You can do an apprenticeship in many different sectors, for example customer service, engineering or mechanics.

Apprentices have to pass various qualifications or assessments, for example English and maths qualifications, to successfully complete their apprenticeship.

To be an apprentice you need to be at least 16 years old. Although you're never too old to start an apprenticeship and gain more qualifications and new skills, most who become an apprentice are aged between 16 to 24 years old. Qualifications range from Level 2 to Level 7, and will take at least one year to complete. If you are doing a higher-level apprenticeship these will take longer.

Find out about apprenticeships.

Internships, supported internships or traineeships

An internship or supported internship, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is a time of unpaid work experience, that lasts up to 1 year, whilst a traineeship up to 6 months.

This often leads to an apprenticeship and is known as a 'stepping stone'.

The placements are available for young people aged 16 to 24 with an education, health and care (EHC) plan. You will learn skills for work with the aim of moving into long term paid employment at the end of the internship.

For more information:

Internships or traineeships

An internship is a time of unpaid work experience, which often leads to an apprenticeship and is known as a 'stepping stone'.

Internships are expected to need a longer programme of study than a traineeship, where the maximum programme length is 6 months. Once the 6 months have passed, you are ready to progress to an apprenticeship or employment.

For more information visit the government website.

Supported employment

Supported employment gives you the opportunity to get support from a work coach. They work with you and your employer to help to get you into an apprenticeship, internship or work related learning.

Find out about the Kent Supported Employment service.

Supported internships

Work experience

Work experience is a temporary role, which allows you to gain experience in a specific career you are interested in. Most work experience is unpaid though there are some types of opportunities where you can earn money.

Find work experience opportunities with us.

Work related learning

Work related learning gives you the opportunity to start to work, and learn at the same time. You may get a qualification in a career such as customer service or gym instructors.


You can volunteer to give up your time for your local community. Volunteering helps you improve your skills, advance your career and make new friends.

Find volunteering opportunities near you.

Find the right job for you

If you are unsure what qualifications you need for a job, you can ask for advice from:

You may also want to visit one of the following websites to help you:

If you are a parent of a young person who is looking for future employment the following websites can help you to support them:

If you are an employer looking to hire a young person with SEND, visit one of the following websites for support:

Applying for a job

Once you have found the job you want to apply for, you will need to write a CV. A CV is a document that employers will look at to see if you are the right person for the job. CV means curriculum vitae.

For more information about applying for a job, how to write a CV, interview tips and talking to your manager about your needs, visit Scope's employment support page.

Mencap also have various easy read guides to help explain the application process to you:

Reasonable adjustments

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure you are not substantially disadvantaged when at work. Find out more about your employment rights and who to speak to if you need support.