Your Choice – Supported Internships

Supported internships are a structured part our our study programme and they enable our young people to achieve sustainable paid employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work, through learning in the workplace. Supported internships are unpaid, and last for a minimum of six months or for the duration of their study programme. Wherever possible, we support our students to move into paid employment at the end of the programme.

All young people should be helped to develop the skills and experience, and achieve the qualifications they need to succeed in their careers. The overwhelming majority of young  people with SEN are capable of sustainable paid employment with the right preparation and support. All professionals working with them should share that presumption.

The aim of supported internships is to prepare young people with complex needs for paid
employment by:

  • supporting them to develop the skills valued by employers
  • enabling them to demonstrate their value in the workplace;
  • developing confidence in their own abilities to perform successfully at work

Whilst the ideal outcome from a supported internship will be the offer of a paid job from an employer, possibly the employer who hosted the intern’s work placement, other
outcomes include:

  • building up experience for a CV, demonstrating that the young person has the
    skills and willingness to work;
  •  changing the perception of employers about employing people with learning
    difficulties and/or disabilities;
  • changing the perception of the young person’s family that they can work;
  • improving skills in English and maths that enable the young person to be better prepared for work, including handling money, interacting with the public, and
    practising interview skills;
  • becoming independent travellers

The high level of individualised support provided to our students is a key distinguishing feature of the supported internship programme. The amount and nature of the support provided will differ from one student to the next, depending on their needs. However, as a general principle the support provided should be that which will enable the student to be as independent as possible, and will vary according to need during the internship, often decreasing over the length of the internship as the intern becomes more confident in the workplace.

Often ‘natural’ forms of support provided by the employer and the student’s colleagues replace the job coach’s support once the intern is well established.
For others, some form of formal support may always be needed and it will be a case of reducing that to the minimal level required by the young person in order to do their job effectively. It will be particularly important in these cases to ensure that there is a plan for on-going support once they progress to paid employment.

Throughout the internship process, students will be supported by our Director of Employability and once on placement will receive at least monthly visits to ensure that they are making progress with their employability skills, to set SMART targets and to ensure that the placement is working for all parties.

Current student testimonial: ” Harrison College has given me a large opportunity for work, build my confidence and develop new skills. They have also given me time to decide what I want to do in the long-term future. My internship with a local business was arranged and I was supported with that – I have now been offered an apprenticeship. I would recommend Harrison College to anyone who is struggling to work out what to do with their future.”

Why Would a Business Offer a Placement?

For our business partners, internships provide a fantastic opportunity to recruit young people that they may not have had the opportunity to meet before. It also allows the business to draw upon their skills and abilities whist adding capacity to their team. Interns could also be part of the solution to recover from the Covid-19 crisis as there is no financial obligation during their time on the internship.

Business Testimonials

Saltersgate Infant School

“Our School and Harrison College have successfully worked together for the past 2 years. During this time, we have had the privilege of supporting young people in their specific areas of interest and expertise, working throughout the many diverse areas of our school within their long-term placements. From the initial meeting to the end of placement, a professional ethos exists with clear expectations and standards made clear for the young adults involved. A clear line of communication for all involved reinforces these expectations and ensures placements are successful, and interactions with each student’s individual tutor reinforces a bespoke programme during the placement.

Each of our students demonstrates a keen interest in a placement within an area of school, and this is carefully tailored to the skills and aspirations of each individual. During an initial interview, students are encouraged to verbalise their strengths, the skills they hope to develop, and their career aspirations, which gives their placement a focus for all involved. Students are professional in their conduct and have a clear understanding of the difference between college and a work-based placement.

The dedication and commitment of all of the young adults we have worked with from Harrison College has been impeccable. A desire to develop skills and knowledge identified for a future career or for further education has been the driver for an effective partnership, with each of the students rising to the continual challenges of working in a busy infant school.

We feel very passionately that supporting young adults in their career pathways is an extension of what we do as providers of early education. Alongside playing an active part in developing our own pupils, we have the privilege of supporting a citizen of the future and hope very much that the relationship between our two establishment continues.”


Head teacher Lee Bell with infants Niall Hamilton-Ellis,6 and Mia Nistor, 6 cutting the ribbon with Harrison College principal, Gemma Peebles

If you are a business and you would be interested in supporting one of our students, please get in touch with Mike Peebles, Director of Employability and Marketing