CSW Group in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Devon County Council have delivered 108 supported work experience placements across 60 employers and 19 different industries to young people with SEND in Year 10 and 11 in the last academic year.

The proof of concept pilot named ‘Tri Work’ was funded by the DWP and offered supported work experience to young people with SEND. The programme was modelled on the three way partnership between the young person, a job coach and a host employer to enable the young person to get the most from their opportunity in the workplace.

A range of special and mainstream schools from across Devon took part with a mixture of young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or SEN Support.

CSW Group recruited job coaches who underwent specific training provided by BASE (the British Association for Supported Employment). During the pilot young people met their job coach to discuss the type of work experience they wanted, their support needs and how the job coach could best support them. The job coach then used CSW Group’s Enterprise team to secure a placement and provided the agreed level of support.

The types of support provided by the job coach included;

  • Training to learn how to get to the placement
  • Reassuring the young person and helping them feel confident
  • Clarifying instructions and resolving issues while on the placement
  • Prompting interaction with colleagues on the placement
  • Discussing career ideas

After the placement had finished the job coach met with the young person to talk about how the placement went, what they had learned and what next steps they needed to take towards their chosen career.

The pilot was well received by all involved and there was lots of positive feedback including Bideford College who said, “We are really pleased with what CSW has done to support students who wouldn’t have gone out on work experience otherwise and those who had work experience arranged but needed some extra support. We would like to see it continue.”

Young people were also very positive about the pilot with feedback including;

  • “Having a Job Coach was very helpful, I was pleased that I had this support throughout the week.”
  • “They helped my confidence by supporting me to contact and visit my placement first”
  • “Meeting the job coach beforehand helped me with my confidence and extra visits and support helped”
  • “I would have been stuck in school if they hadn’t found me a place”

In one case a young person did so well they were offered a Saturday job by the employer!

On the 10th July 2018 the manager of the project, a job coach and the careers coordinator from a partner school went to DWP headquarters in London to deliver a presentation to the Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton MP as well as senior figures within the DWP and Department for Education. They spoke about how the project was delivered and how it has had a very positive impact on the lives of the young people involved and recommended that a national initiative be considered. Two other Local Authorities also involved in the pilot presented and made the case for this pilot to be rolled out nationally. We are now hoping to hear that this will be agreed.