Supported internships offer 16-24 year olds with a learning difficulty, disability or autism, an opportunity to build their skills and confidence to go into paid work. Supported internships are a way of encouraging participation among this group who are often disproportionately excluded in society.
Project Choice is a Specialist ‘virtual’ Post-16 College providing work experience as well as a supported internship programme that helps young adults between the ages of 16-24 with disabilities, learning disabilities, difficulties and/or Autism gain work experience and improve employability and independence skills.
The Virtual College is NHS-based within Health Education England. Project Choice support young people to gain work skills through 3 stages of development to access employment.
Stage 1: Work experience
- Project Choice offers term time placements, for Learners still attending School.
- Work experience consists of one half day every week, for six weeks.
- Learners start work around 9.30am and finish at around 12.15pm (slight variations can be negotiated with the schools).
- Training is provided with the support of a mentor.
- Once each cohort of learners complete their work experience placements, they are presented with a certificate.
Stage 2: Internship
- Project Choice operates 5 days a week, Monday to Friday over an academic year, September to July,
- Placements with Project Choice business partners are bespoke and related to each Interns skills and interests.
- Throughout the year, each week Interns attend 1 full day of education (maths, English and employability lessons) and up to 4 days of professional placements.
- Interns are given a 2 week full-time induction prior to starting any placements with educational learning including confidentiality, inclusion and diversity and professional expectations.
- Interns attend all additional training as required by their placement partner.
- Local Coordinators complete weekly/ fortnightly reviews and work with partners to develop and maintain the Intern placements.
Stage 3: Apprenticeship and Employment
The Transition support for interns leaving Project Choice and choosing to move into paid employment or apprenticeships may include:
- Application support
- Interview practice
- Formal discussions with the employer around reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process
- Support and guidance with skill scans/paperwork and documentation during apprenticeship sign up (for intern and employer)
- Attending corporate inductions with intern and support with induction and training
- Fortnightly* review meetings with intern/employer/training provider *can be more or less frequent as required
- Pastoral Support
- HR Issues (reorganisation, conduct, performance etc.)
- Any ad hoc issues that may arise throughout the 5 year period after leaving Project Choice
How Project Choice are funded
The College and Internship Course are funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and host commissioning Local Authorities through individual Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP).
They are fully self-sufficient and do not rely on NHS funding.
This does mean that there are some eligibility requirements for future Interns. See more information about eligibility and the application process here
Find out more about Project Choice here