A college which was one of 15 in the country to pilot a Government scheme to help people with disabilities get work said it has had a 90 per cent success rate, bucking a national trend.

Shipley College was picked to trial the initiative which is designed to help people with specific learning difficulties and/or disabilities. All but one of the 14 students involved have now been offered employment with local employers.

The supported Internship programme offers a package of workplace training which integrates guidance and support from expert coaches while trainees do real jobs for at least six months.

Principal Nav Chohan said: “I was delighted that Shipley College was involved in the pilot of this specialised employment-focused study programme for young people aged 16 to 24 with complex needs.

“Shipley College is a vocational college and we pride ourselves not only in helping our students to gain qualifications but also to develop the skills and confidence to progress to the career of their choice.

“Our students understand that work experience offers a real opportunity to show employers what they can do, and we believe these Supported Internships will be a vital step forward in supporting students with learning difficulties and disabilities into sustainable paid employment.”

The Supported Internships trial is part of the biggest reform of special education needs policy in 30 years. The Special Educational Needs Green Paper Next Steps details how the Government supports young people who lose support when they leave school.

At 16, young disabled people are twice as likely not to be in any form of education, employment or training (NEET) as their non-disabled peers The Supported Internship Programme aims to fill this void, acting as a gateway between education and work.

According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people remain far less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people. In 2012, 46.3 per cent of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4 per cent of working-age non-disabled people. And less than 14 per cent of people with a severe or specific learning difficulty were in employment.

However the success rate of the trial at Shipley College has bucked the national average.

Job coach Rachel Hoyland said: “We are open to exploring any work opportunities in all sectors, with large or small organisations.

Fellow coach Attila Darvasi added: “All the employers on board so far have been really impressed with the accuracy and focus of the students’ work. The scheme has also received praise from parents. Sharon Russell, mum to Phillip who had a position with Bradford Works, said: “Since the start of the course, we have seen Philip’s confidence grow. He began to solve problems for himself. The family are so proud of him, even his sister!”

Phillip continues to volunteer one day a week and is currently undertaking an award in practical horticulture skills.

l For more information contact the Supported Internship Programme office at Shipley College and speak to Rachel or Attila on 01274 327 224, email jobcoachteam@shipley.ac.uk or visit supportedinternships.shipley.ac.uk.

A free networking event for existing and potential employers will take place on September 20 at Victoria Hall, Saltaire, from 12.30pm-2.30 pm.

e-mail: julie.tickner@telegraphandargus.co.uk



Case study 1

Nineteen-year-old Luke McKenzie has a job at the Midland Hotel, Bradford.
His main role is in the office creating and maintaining an additional data base.
General manager Gary Peacock said: “We effectively carved out a role based on his skills and the work that needed doing.
“His abilities and focus made his work an integral part of our sales function. I was able to access funding from the City Centre Growth Fund, part of Regional Growth Fund, in May which has enabled the business to employ Luke for two days a week.”
Steven Hydes has also settled into his role as a general assistant in housekeeping. His duties include helping with cleaning, collection of linen, replenishing different stocks and minor maintenance jobs.



Case study 2

Peter Denham, operating manager of Knightsbridge Furniture Production, Bradford, said: “The students had clearly made a significant effort to introduce themselves and greeted us with much enthusiasm.
“The college’s support to us and the students was outstanding.
“This enabled the students to integrate into our workforce and they became valued members of pour team culminating in the appointment of one of the students, James Delaney, 19.”