Research into Supported Internship delivery

Cooper Gibson Research (CGR) has published a research report looking at how Supported Internships are delivered. The research, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), aimed to explore: 

  • The models and approaches to delivery of supported internships available for young people with EHCPs in England. 
  • The factors perceived to be associated with success for supported internships. 
  • Perceived barriers to the success of supported internships, and how these may be overcome. 

CGR conducted a total of 50 in-depth qualitative telephone interviews with a sample of 42 Supported Internship providers and eight wider stakeholders representing or engaging with the sector.

A number of barriers to success were identified. These include:

  • financial constraints
  • difficulty in engaging with employers
  • parental anxieties, particularly around finances, and
  • the complexity of Access to Work funding for job coaches

Factors influencing success included:

  • employer commitment
  • the critical work of the job coach
  • parental/carer support, and
  • positive levels of motivation.

We don't feel that this research adds much to the understanding of how some providers can achieve 90+% outcomes while others struggle to get any job outcomes. We also fail to understand the funding constraints. BASE is working with DfE to seek improvements to the quality of Supported Internships, improved data analysis, and more prescriptive guidance on what constitutes a Supported Internship.

The report contains a number of recommendations for the Department for Education:

  • updated guidance to emphasise further that, while skills and independence development are welcome gains, the primary goal of an SI is paid employment 
  • standardise the way that SI outcomes and costs data are recorded, and long-term impacts tracked 
  • a further piece of work focused on the quality of provision 
  • a one-stop information hub for supported internships, including content for employers and families
  • a separate, focused study would aid understanding about funding levels/constraints faced by providers, and explore ways in which the Access to Work application process could be streamlined 
  • invest in developing the job coach workforce, for example as a strand within the proposed SEND workforce development programme overseen by the SEND Leadership Board 
  • consider how existing SI forums could be better promoted 
  • guidance on learner readiness indicators and clarify that many young people need a post-16 pathway to employment