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National Supported Internship Day

 National Supported Internship Day 

27th March 2023


Get involved and help transform the lives of young people with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition.

The story of National Supported Internship Day

The solution to many problems faced by young people with a learning disability, autism spectrum condition, or both is straightforward: competitive employment.

Yet only 4.8% of people in England (and 4.1% of people in Scotland) with a learning disability and/or autism who are known to local authorities go on to secure paid employment, compared to 80% of their peers.

We need to work together to change that.

DFN Project SEARCH is launching the first-ever National Supported Internship Day to raise awareness of the huge impact that a supported internship can have, not only on the life outcomes of the interns who take part, but on the host organisation and wider society too.

In 2022 we were awarded a government contract from the Department for Education, as part of a consortium working in partnership with the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) and British Association of Supported Employment (BASE) to double the number of supported internships to 4,500 per year in England by March 2025. We see this as a testament to our collaborative, results-driven work.

That’s why we are calling on everyone – whether you’re linked to the business, education or health sectors, local authorities, national government, the public, private and third sectors – to come together and challenge the everyday misconceptions and pre-set work cultures that all-too-often unfairly shape the lives of young adults with a learning disability and/or autism across the UK.

How do I get involved?

Help us spread the word! By raising awareness of Supported Internships, you’ll help us build an understanding of the incredible opportunities they offer for young adults  with a learning disability and/or autism spectrum condition, transitioning from education to employment.

  • Download the official NSID Media Pack 2023
  • Get in touch with your regional lead at NTDi and BASE. Click here to learn more about Internships Work.
  • Celebrate your supported internships by hosting an event or posting online about it. Some ideas include: Running a coffee morning – Hold an online event to raise awareness of your programme  – Get your local MP to tweet their support for your programme – Contact your local newspaper! You can submit your entries by posting your content online with the #NationalSupportedInternshipDay or #NSID2023
  • Become an Employer Champion. Click here to learn more. 
  • You can also write to your local MP and ask them to sign this Early Day Motion (EDM) recognising National Supported Internship Day, launched by DFN Project SEARCH. 

    However you get involved, simply raising awareness of this issue will help us reach a fairer and more equitable future for young adults with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition.




    What’s a supported internship?

    A work-based study programme for 16 to 24-year-olds with SEND, who have an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

    The core aim of a supported internship study programme is a substantial work placement, facilitated by the support of an expert job coach.

    How do they work?

    Supported interns are enrolled and supported by a learning provider, for example, a school or college, but spend most of their learning time in a workplace.

    Supported interns are in full-time education, and their supported internship work placement are part of their course. There is no legal requirement or expectation that the supported intern will be paid.

    What are the benefits of offering a supported internship?

    They have a transformative effect on the interns who take part. They offer real work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills delivered in a business setting to help young people make successful transitions to productive adult life.

    They also offer several economic benefits to the employers, providing access to a new, diverse talent stream with skills to match labour needs.



    Why did we launch a National Supported Internship Day?

    Because we want to make a difference. Less than 5% of people with a learning disability and/or autism go on to secure paid employment.


    Watch Alex’s story filmed by the wonderful Social Business Trust


                Click to watch Alex’s story 



    Myth: People with a learning disability are less productive than those without disabilities.

    Fact: Research shows that people with a disability (including a learning disability) perform as well as, or better than, other employees.


    Myth: People with a learning disability are more likely to be absent from work.

    Fact: A comprehensive study showed that people with a learning disability take less sick leave, are more punctual and stay longer in the job.


    Myth: People with a learning disability do not have the skills to work.

    Fact: DFN Project SEARCH interns are a great example of how wrong this is! Research shows that if anything prejudice and lack of opportunity prevent people with a disability from using their skills.


    Myth: It is more expensive to recruit people with a learning disability

    Fact: Even when there is an extra cost in recruitment, lower job turnover and absences offset them.

    Contact us 


    Contact us to find out more, or discuss how you can support National Supported Internship Day!


    We will continue to update this site with more information before National Supported Internship Day on 27th March 2023.