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Supported Internships, Traineeships and Apprenticeships

Stoke on Trent Local Authority remains committed to continuously improving and delivering the best educational and career opportunities so that you can achieve your full potential through education as you progress to the world of work.

In the UK there is no reason why students with disabilities or other special educational needs cannot join colleges and universities. Support is usually good; under the Equality Act 2010 all universities and colleges have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their services.  From 2014, it is compulsory for young people to stay in education, employment or training until their 18th birthday.

Education and training can be summarised as:

  • Full-time study in a school, college or with a training provider
  • Full-time work or volunteering (20 hours or more) combined with part-time education or training or
  • An apprenticeship or traineeship.

If college and university are not for you, there are a range of alternative pathways into employment, including traineeships and those where you can 'earn as you learn' such as apprenticeships.

Supported Internships

Supported internships are for young people aged 16 - 24 with learning difficulties or learning disabilities, who want to get a job and need extra support to do this. To be eligible you need a Statement of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), a Learning Difficulty Assessment, or an Education Health and Care Plan. The scheme is run by further education (FE) colleges who work with employers to:

  • find a job that suits the abilities of each intern
  • create a unique study programme so all interns can learn the necessary skills to do the job.

What are they?
A study programme put together to give each student exactly the training, support and work skills they need to help them get a job. Most of the learning is done in the workplace. Your employer gives you work experience, trains you to do a job role and learn the skills needed for work. You also have the chance to study for qualifications and other training or learning as part of a personalised study programme that helps you to be ready to take up a job. Internships are unpaid and last for at least six months - they're all about working towards getting a paid job, and wherever possible doing a supported internship will enable you to move into a paid job at the end of the programme. Programmes can also give interns the opportunity to take courses to develop other relevant skills, such as effective communication or understanding money.

How they work
As of September 2013, all FE colleges, sixth forms and independent specialist providers can offer supported internships as part of their learning programme for SEN students. The school, college or specialist provider will work with local employers and supported employment services. You will be involved in planning your study programme and have a tutor and expert job coach to work you and the employer during the internship.

  • Find out about supported internships from your school, local college, social worker, transition worker, or from Job Centre Plus.
  • Your local authority website provides information about what help there is to get a paid job.
  • Visit the Preparing for Adulthood website to download a short guide for learners, a more detailed factsheet and to watch videos about supported internships.


Traineeships are an ideal opportunity for young people, aged 16 to 24, who are motivated to get a job but lack the skills and experience that employers are looking for.

A traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience. It is designed to give young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for.  Information to help you decide whether you might be suitable, and advice on how to get onto a traineeship can be found here Is a Traineeship for Me.

Those who have been unsuccessful when applying for an apprenticeship or other job due to a lack of skills and experience are most likely be good candidates for a traineeship. It has 3 core elements:

  • a high-quality work experience placement with an employer
  • work preparation training , provided by the training organisation
  • English and Maths support, if required, provided by the training organisation.

Traineeships last anything up to a maximum of 6 months with the content tailored to the needs of the business and the individual. Traineeship opportunities are advertised regularly on Find a Traineeship

Find a traineeship
A traineeship is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last up to 6 months. You can apply if you’re:

  • eligible to work in England
  • unemployed and have little or no work experience
  • aged 16 to 24 and qualified below Level 3.

You may be ready for an Apprenticeship if you already have some work experience. You’ll get:

  • a work experience placement
  • help with English and Maths (if you need it).

You won’t be paid, but you may be given expenses for things like travel and meals. 


Apprenticeships are an opportunity to continue with your learning and get nationally recognised qualifications, whilst gaining real employment experience in a paid role. Apprenticeships are most commonly associated with construction trades or business administration - both of which can lead to great careers - but what is not so well known is just how many industries, from animal care to engineering, are now offering apprenticeships.

Those who have been unsuccessful when applying for an apprenticeship or other job due to a lack of skills and experience are most likely be good candidates for a traineeship.

As an apprentice you will:

  • learn while you earn, studying towards a sector related qualification
  • gain industry specific skills and experience in a real working environment
  • work alongside, and learn from more experienced colleagues and members of staff.

What do I need to become an apprentice?
Different employers and industry sectors may have different requirements for their apprenticeships. Entry requirements will also vary depending on the level of apprenticeship being offered. However, for all apprenticeships:

  • you must be 16 years or over and not in full time education
  • you must live in England, and have a National Insurance Number.

What will I earn as an apprentice?
All employers have to pay apprentices the National Apprentice Minimum Wage of £3.30 per hour; this applies to apprentices aged 16 to 18, and those aged 19 or over, who are in their first year. You must be paid at least the minimum wage rate for your age if you are an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed your first year. More information on National Minimum Wage can be found here. However - this is the minimum rate that employers can legally pay you, and increasingly employers are recognising the value of apprenticeships, and are offering higher rates of pay.

What hours will I work as an apprentice?
As an apprentice you will be paid for:

  • a minimum of 30 hours per week (including time for study)
  • any training that's part of your apprenticeship
  • at least 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.

What qualifications will I get as an apprentice?
All apprenticeships involve study for work-based learning qualifications, including:

  • A competencies qualification at level 2, 3 or 4 which shows you have the ability to work in a particular area of skill, trade, or occupation.
  • A technical knowledge qualification which shows you have a good understanding of your chosen industry.
  • Key skills (such as team work, problem solving, and communication), and (if you did not get English and Maths at GCSE grades C or above), you will have the opportunity to complete functional skills qualifications in those areas
  • Employers rights and responsibilities - understanding employer responsibilities and your rights as an employee.

What level qualification will I study?
Apprenticeships are offered at three main 'levels':

  • Intermediate Level apprenticeships are equivalent to 5 GCSE passes
  • Advanced Level apprenticeships are equivalent to 2 A level passes
  • Higher Level apprenticeships can lead to NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree.

How can I become an apprentice?
There are a range of websites and services that can help you to find and apply for a suitable apprenticeship:

  • Stoke-on-Trent College - apprenticeship vacancies at a local further education college

  • Newcastle under Lyme College (NULC) - apprenticeship vacancies at a local further education college

  • National Apprenticeships - on this site you can search for apprenticeships, and set up an account that will alert you when apprenticeships matching your requirements are advertised

  • National Careers Service – provides a range of information available online and by telephone for young people, including a section on apprenticeships.

Access to Work Funding

Young people on or about to start the work experience placement of a supported internship, or traineeship with a disability or health condition, can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions' Access to Work fund for:

  • funding of travel (providing assistance for additional travel costs to and from their work experience placement because of their disability);
  • the costs of job coaches; and
  • specialist equipment for days that a young person is at the employer's premises.

There is no set amount for an Access to Work grant, and how much an individual receives depends upon their circumstances. Completed applications should be sent to the dedicated Access to Work team at

The application process for those on supported internships and traineeships wishing to apply to Access to Work has now been revised. Changes include:

  • the provision for a supported employment provider to make an application on behalf of an education provider (education providers can still make the claim if they would like to do so);
  • a move from one form per month, to one per placement for each student; and
  • the ability to make applications up to three months in advance.

Attached to this page is a flowchart setting out who may be eligible for Access to Work funding and the form for applying for Access to Work funding.

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