young man facing camera in a group of people. The young man is wearing a hard hat

Employment is a very important part of life. When people have a job, they feel part of society, they have a purpose, make new friends plus have money in their pockets to buy the things they want.

There are a number of ways that young people with special educational needs and disabilities can access the world of work.  These include:

  • Supported Internships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Traineeships
  • Volunteering

Read our Easy Read information on work and training. 

Apprenticeships and Supported Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships combined education with on-the-job training to allow you to work whilst studying for a nationally recognised qualification and get paid a salary to do so. You can start an apprenticeship post 16 or any other time as long as you match the entry requirements for each level apprenticeship: The 4 different apprenticeship levels are: intermediate: level 2 (GCSE D-E’s equivalent); advanced: level 3 (A ‘level equivalent); higher: level 4 or 5 (Foundation Degree/ HND/HNC equivalent); degree: level 6 or 7. 

Information for young people on apprenticeships  can be found on further education-skills on GOV UK. You can also search for local vacancies. 

Supported Apprenticeships

Supported Apprenticeships are apprenticeship placements with an exemption for typical Maths and English grade expectations. This includes a British Sign Language qualification approved in place of a English qualification as a minimum requirement. The development of end point assessments (how an apprentice completes their modules) to be reasonably adjusted.

More information can be found on the BASE website Supported Apprenticeship portal.

To help you explore the option of Apprenticeships we have produced a PFA Apprenticeship guide.


Traineeships will no longer be funded through the national traineeship programme anymore but can be offered by providers locally or can be integrated into 16-19 study programmes.

Supported Internships

Supported Internships are a structured work-based study programme for 16–24-year-olds, lasting for a minimum of 6 months.

Supported internships are mostly held within an educational provider with work based placements included throughout the internship.

Alongside their time with the employer, supported interns complete a personalised study programme, which includes the chance to study relevant qualifications to the industry they would like to work in post internship.

In Cambridgeshire, supported internships are currently offered by Cambridge Regional College at their Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon sites. College of West AngliaCity College Peterborough and Peterborough Regional College also offer some.

Further information on Supported internships can be found using the links below: 

What are Supported Internships? An Easy Read document

GOV.UK: Supported internships guidance

BASE: Supported Internship information



Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career. Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health.

Find out more about local volunteering on the CCVS website. 

Job coach support

Job coaches help support you to do your job confidently and efficiently. They can help in many ways, depending on what help you need.

Here is a guide on Job coaches: Working-with-a-job-coach.pdf (ndti.org.uk).

An Access to Work grant can support you with a job coach to help you in your workplace.  

If your child or young person accesses an area special school, than they may be eligible for The 14-25 Additional Needs Team has two job coaches covering North and South. Please contact Martine.simpson-thomas@cambridgeshire.gov.uk for more information

Access to Work

Access to Work can help you get or stay in work if you have a physical or mental health condition or disability.The support you get will depends on your needs. Through Access to Work, you can apply for:a grant to help pay for practical support with your worksupport with managing your mental health at workmoney to pay for communication support at job interviews. 

You can read a Easy Read guide to Access to work on the GOV.UK website. 

Employment Rights

What is the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.

What is a Reasonable Adjustment? 

Under the Equality Act organisations must must make sure that services are accessible to disabled people as well as everybody else. Reasonable adjustments can mean alterations to buildings by providing lifts, wide doors, ramps and tactile signage, but may also mean changes to policies, procedures and staff training to ensure that services work equally well for people with learning disabilities.

Easy Read Guide to Resonable Adjustment.

Vocational profiling

A vocational profile is developed with a person who has additional learning needs, disabilities and or difficulties, or a health condition to help identify their personal aspirations.

This might be for work - paid, voluntary or work experience.  It can also include interests, current skills and experiences, barriers to gaining employment and anything else a person wants to say about themselves to help them to gain meaningful employment in an areas of interest to them.

Vocational profiles can be done from Year 9 onwards or after leaving school.

Download a Easy Read Vocational Profile Template (Word Doc)

Download a Pictorial Vocational Profile Template (PDF)

You can find out more about vocational profiles on the Preparing for Adulthood - vocational profile website.

Social training enterprises

Social training enterprises provide vocational training and work-related activities for people with disabilities or complex needs. Training opportunities range from cycle repair to catering, horticulture, retail, printing, woodwork, recycling and customer service skills. The learning opportunities include social skills and personal development, independent living, portfolio building and careers advice and guidance. It is possible to work towards nationally recognised qualifications. Some young people may go to a social training enterprise as part of their college course or an Individual Curriculum Solutions package. For adults, attendance is normally funded by social care or from a person's own benefits.

There are a number of social and training enterprises offering a range of work and other opportunities.  You can find out more about them and what they do at their websites

There is also a local Social Training Enterprise Group (STEnG) with the aim of working together to increase opportunities. 

The Disability Confident Scheme

The Disability Confident scheme encourages employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.

It was developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives to make it rigorous but easily accessible, particularly for smaller businesses.

Information for Employers

Employer Toolkit

The Employer Toolkit offers practical help and advice to employers, managers and employees when working with young people with additional needs. The tool kit includes:

  • Helpful and supportive inclusive practices
  • Benefits of taking a person on with additional needs and the productivity this has for your organisation.
  • Details of rights and responsibilities for employers and employees
  • Guidance for line managers on how to make quick reasonable adjustments.
  • Taking Positive action in recruitment, advertisement
  • Financial assistance available for employers and employees following inclusive practice.

Short films:

  • Cambridgeshire County Council are working closely with Choice College (previously Project Choice) to increase the number of young people with additional needs to access work experience and supported internships. As an employer, if you want to find out more about taking young people on work experience and Supported Internships, please have a look at the following two short films:
  • Work experience project choice - YouTube Supported internship Project Choice - YouTube.

For further information please contact Marty Simpson-Thomas: Preparing for Adulthood Lead: martine.simpson-thomas@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Please feel free to share the toolkit around your organisation and to colleagues the toolkit would benefit. We would also love to know how this toolkit has helped or supported you in any way, so please do send us any feedback you have, or if there are further suggestions or improvements that we can make by completing the feedback survey.


The Thomas Pocklington Trust

Thomas Pocklington Trust increase awareness and understanding of the needs and aspirations of blind and partially sighted people. We are committed to working with partners and developing and implementing activities and services which meet these needs to increase independence and improve lives. These include:

  • Acting as an advocate and positive change agent for blind and partially sighted people.
  • Creating opportunities for blind and partially sighted people seeking employment.
  • Enabling opportunities and supporting blind and partially sighted people in and entering education.
  • Facilitating the voice and encouraging self-determination of blind and partially sighted people.
  • Being an effective partner and grant funder based on our knowledge of the sector


Virtual Employment event for people with additional needs
Deaf Works Everywhere
National SEND Employment Forum: tips to stay on track with your employment goals
Getting a Job - Student Video (Careers Enterprise Company)

Related Pages

  1. Easy Read Information about work and training
  2. Further and higher education
  3. Independent Living
  4. Travel and transport


  1. SEND Employer Toolkit
  2. RNIB Moving On Guide: Preparing young people with vision impairment for post-16 transitions
  3. PFA Apprenticeship Guide (PDF version)
  4. PFA Apprenticeship Guide (Word version)
  5. Pictorial Vocational Profile Template (PDF)
  6. Easy Read Vocational Profile Template (Word Doc)
  7. Moving On: Information for School Leavers with Additional Needs in Cambridgeshire

Related Services

  1. CPCA - Your Futures
  2. BASE
  3. Scope Support to Work
  4. Cambridge Regional College
  5. Ely and District Volunteer Centre
  6. Volunteer Centre Fenland
  7. St Ives Volunteer Centre
  8. Enna: Neurodiverse Recruitment Service

External Links

  1. Cambridgeshire Skills - adult learning
  2. Cambridge Regional College
  3. The Equality Act - Easy Read Document
  4. Easy Read Guide to Reasonable Adjustment
  5. Mencap - Education, Skills and Work
  6. Apprenticeships - Real stories
  7. Special Needs Jungle - How do apprenticeships support young people with SEN?
  8. EmployAbility
  9. CPCA - Your Futures
  10. BASE: Supported Apprenticeships
  11. Routes into Work Guide
  12. Papworth Trust - Routeways to work
  13. Education and Training Jargon Buster
  14. Ambitious about Autism PFA page


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