At Gateway Qualifications we are committed to helping our centres develop pathways to employment for all their learners.

The latest figures tell us that 340,000 people with a disability were unemployed (source: House of Commons Library, People with disabilities in employment, page 3, May 2019). We want to help many more young people with SEND into work and believe that supported internships are an excellent way to make that happen.

What is a supported internship?

A supported internship is one type of study programme specifically aimed at young people aged 16 to 24 who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and want to move into employment but need extra support to do so.

Supported internships help young people with SEND to achieve sustainable, paid employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work – largely through learning in the workplace.

Internships normally last for around a year and include unpaid work placements of at least six months.  Trained job coaches offer personalised support to the young people while they are in the workplace, helping them master their job role and gradually develop the confidence to work unsupported, as far as possible.  Access to Work funding is available for job coach support.

Interns can expect a programme of learning that helps them develop the skills they need for work, such as job-specific skills, general employability skills – including English and maths – and broader personal and social skills.

Using qualifications in supported internships

While there is no requirement to offer qualifications within a supported internship, you may wish to externally accredit the achievements your interns gain while on the programme. Findings show that the employment rate was lowest for those without a qualification (source: House of Commons Library, People with disabilities in employment, page 10, May 2019)

Relevant qualifications can make a useful addition to a young person’s CV. They can be particularly important as a way of recognising and recording valuable achievement for interns who are not offered a job at the end of their internship, as they continue on their path to paid employment.

Small qualifications which complement and add value to the learner’s programme are the most effective in the supported internship context.

At Gateway Qualifications, we have a range of units and qualifications that you may find useful.

Employability skills

Our Entry level Awards (6 credits) and Certificates (13 credits) in Preparation for Employment (Entry 1, 2 and 3) are the perfect underpinning qualifications for a supported internship.  They reflect all stages of learning within an internship from vocational profiling and exploring employment options, to preparing for and gaining new skills on placement, to applying for jobs at the end of the programme.

You can select from a wide range of units covering areas such as;

  • personal presentation at work,
  • following instructions,
  • independent travel,
  • preparing for an interview,
  • speaking up for yourself,
  • dealing with work-related problems
  • managing your time.

At Entry 3, learners can combine general employability skills with units exploring a particular sector such as working in sport and active leisure or working in art and design.


Within our Suite of Skills qualifications we offer Awards at Entry 3, Level 1 and Level 2 in a wide range of vocational areas – from hospitality and catering to the land-based sector.  These small qualifications (each around 6 credits) are ideal for supporting interns to acquire some key vocational skills, relevant to their placement and their future plans.

We also have a number of Awards in areas such as health and safety in a construction environment.

A supported internship can be the ideal time to gain a qualification of this nature, while the young person has extended access to the workplace and in time to impress employers when it comes to job-seeking at the end of their programme.

English and maths

Our bite-sized English and maths awards allow you to target those skills most relevant to your supported interns while on placement or as they prepare to enter the world of paid employment.  Available from Entry 1 to Level 2, they can be embedded into workplace learning or taught in separate class-based sessions.

Personal and social skills

If improved personal and social skills is key to improving a young person’s chances of gaining employment, then you might consider our Awards in Personal and Social Skills at Entry 1, 2 and 3.  You can select from a wide range of units covering skills such as self-advocacy, independent travel, handling money, and healthy eating.

Speak to your development manager or contact us for further information about any of these qualifications.

Qualifications for job coaches

Job coaches play a critical role within supported internships.  In order to offer high quality support, it is essential that they are trained for the role.

Gateway Qualifications is the only awarding organisation to offer the Level 3 Certificate for Supported Employment Practitioners.  Developed with BASE, it is underpinned by the national occupational standards for supported employment practitioners and is recognised across the sector as the key qualification for job coaches.

Contact us if you are interested in delivering this qualification or for details of centres already running the Certificate, who will be able to advise you on current courses for you or your staff.

Useful links

Preparing for Adulthood – a wealth of resources on supported internships

Department for Education – guidance on providing supported internships

BASE – general information on supported employment

Access to Work – information on the funding available to interns for support to travel to and from work and in the workplace