Young people with learning disabilities are finding work opportunities thanks to the EmployAbility – Let’s Work Together internship programme run by National Grid.
Good for society
- Students who face severe challenges finding employment have their work opportunities massively improved.
- The cost to society of providing welfare for a person with learning difficulties over their lifetime is estimated to be £1 million. National Grid's programme greatly reduced this for the trainees as they often went on to earn their own money and become more financially self-sufficient.
Good for business
- The skills of the senior staff were developed as they ran the internship programme and future leaders emerged.
- The business gained access to a rich source of creative and diverse people with untapped potential.
Top tip from National Grid
Have a member of senior management as the visible lead on the project so staff understand the programme has senior support.
It’s important to get your staff involved early as they are more likely to be able to spot any practical issues or learning opportunities.
Engage staff with the interns and your training partner before internship starts. This builds disability confidence into the DNA of the business.
EmployAbility – Let’s Work Together is a supported internship programme for people aged 17 - 22 with learning disabilities that National Grid set up in partnership with Round Oak School in 2013.
The interns are placed in National Grid offices for an academic year with the support of job coaches funded by the Government’s Access to Work scheme.
Despite their many abilities, students with learning disabilities have just a 7% likelihood of finding work when they leave school or college, according to Government data. One proven way to improve any person’s prospects for finding work is give them access to the workplace but young people with learning disabilities are less likely to be given the opportunity to do work experience.
This year the EmployAbility – Let’s Work Together programme has expanded to 24 interns and links have been developed with eight schools catering for children with special needs in the Midlands.
The cost to the taxpayer over the lifetime of each student who isn’t able to find paid employment is more than £1m, according to Government data. This means helping someone with learning disabilities find work when they first leave education is valuable to society as well as to the individual student.
Graduates at National Grid were put in charge of some elements of the internships and those who were involved reported a huge increase in their confidence around working people with learning disabilities.
What National Grid's CEO said:
“In just three years, our EmployAbility programme has already had a huge impact on many lives. We know first-hand the difference it makes to individuals and the teams with whom they work and are hopeful others jump on the opportunity of having this fantastic programme in their businesses.” - Steve Holliday, Chief Executive Officer, National Grid