Apprenticeships and employment

If you have special educational needs or a disability and are looking for work, there are lots of places you can find help

Training and extra help finding work

If you feel you may need a bit of extra support in a workplace or help finding a job, these opportunities offer help for you.


Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

An apprentice:

  • works alongside experienced staff
  • gains job-specific skills
  • earns a wage
  • studies towards a related qualification (usually 1 day a week)

With regard to young people with SEND the Department for Education has made changes to apprenticeships that mean that people with a disability who have an existing or previously issued Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), statement of Special Educational Need (SEN) or a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) may be able to access an apprenticeship without a GCSE grade 4-9 (previously A-C) in English and Maths.

In these circumstances, an apprenticeship may be suitable if:

  • The young person is able to achieve Entry Level 3 in English and maths by the end of their apprenticeship.
  • The young person will become occupationally competent by the end of their apprenticeship.
  • There are no industry specific minimum entry requirements.

In Sandwell, some young people have progressed onto an apprenticeship after completing their supported internship programme.

If you would like support to find an apprenticeship please send us an email to or call 0121 569 5981.

More details:

Supported employment

Supported Employment is a well-established model used by the council’s Specialist Employment Team to support people with disabilities and health conditions to find and sustain paid employment.

If you are interested in receiving support from a specialist employment adviser to find a job or apprenticeship please complete our enquiry form which you can find in the downloads section of this page. 

Alternatively you can email the Specialist Employment Team directly or call us on 0121 569 5981

Your journey with us:

Initial meeting

On receipt of your enquiry form a specialist employment adviser will contact you to arrange your initial meeting.  At this meeting, your adviser will tell you about the service, the support available and answer any questions.

Initial assessment

If you decide you would like to take up the service your adviser will complete your assessment.  The assessment can take place over one or two meetings and includes:

  • Vocational Profile – this is a “getting to know you” process where we identify your aspirations, learning needs, individual skills, previous experiences and job preferences.  We encourage parents, carers and support workers to be involved in this process so we get a complete picture.  The vocational profile helps us to job search for you and improves the chances of us finding a high-quality job match.
  • Literacy and Numeracy assessment – we assess your English and Maths levels so we can understand what workplace adjustments may be required when you start work, and whether you will be able to complete an apprenticeship. 
  • Benefit Calculations – we complete a benefit calculation so we can understand how work will affect your benefits and the household income.  We want to make sure you are better off working and that we understand how many hours a week you need to work to ensure this.
  • Work Star Action Plan – at the end of your assessment we will complete an action plan with you.  This is your plan and all goals and activity will be agreed with you and reviewed monthly.  Some of these goals and activities may be challenging at first, but we will provide you with lots of support and encouragement.

Work-related activity

Once we have completed your assessment you will start to work towards your goals and complete the activity that’s been agreed.  Here are some examples of what this can include:

  • Job Club – we hold weekly job clubs fully supported by qualified, specialist employment advisers.
  • Employability Courses – you will be invited to attend weekly employability courses to learn about the world of work.
  • Work Tasters and Work Placements – we will identify unpaid time limited work placements for you with local employers to help you learn about the world of work and develop work skills.
  • Independent Travel – we will encourage you to travel independently to your activities and complete travel training with you.

Employer engagement and job matching

Whilst you are completing your activities we will be engaging with employers to identify paid opportunities for you.  

We know that traditional recruitment methods and formal interviews seldom result in offers of employment for people with disabilities and health conditions.  

We encourage employers to consider “working interviews” which allow the person to demonstrate their skills in the workplace and allows the employer to gather the evidence that a formal interview seeks to capture.

Often work experience placements will lead to paid employment, and your employment adviser will negotiate these opportunities with your placement provider. 

In-work support

You will receive in-work support and mentoring which is individually tailored, targeted and phased out over time. 

Career development

Your employer will be encouraged to develop your career as with any one else they employ.  This will include you having access to training and development opportunities where they are available within the company you work for.

There is more information about Supported Employment nationally on the British Association for Supported Employment website.


A traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience that gives young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for. For example:

  • work preparation training,
  • English and maths for those who need it,
  • and a work experience placement.

Benefits of a traineeship

  • A traineeship will put you in a better position to compete for an apprenticeship or other job.
  • The opportunity to build your CV and get vital experience with local and national employers.
  • Improving your English and maths skills will boost your chances of getting a job, as well as improving your long term prospects and earning potential over your lifetime.

Employers are at the centre of traineeships to ensure they give you the skills you need to secure a job.

Supported internships

Supported internships provide employers with an opportunity to see how disabled young people can benefit their businesses. This is a study programme for students aged 16 to 24 with complex learning difficulties or disabilities who need extra support to move into employment.

The student will be based primarily with the employer and both will be supported by an expert job coach.

Work in Sandwell

Sandwell is part of the DFN Project Search supported internship programme which is offered in partnership with DPD UK and The Westminster Specialist College. To find out more about this programme please see the explanatory leaflet in the downloads section of this page

Supported internship programmes are now available at The Westminster School in Rowley Regis, Sandwell College, Dudley College and Halesowen College. Pre-internship programmes are available at The Meadows School in Oldbury.

Presentation by The Westminster School staff about the supported internship programme

Latest video from February 2020 about supported internship opportunities in Sandwell

Other Information

Search for a job

Job Centres - Find your nearest Job Centre where you can also have access to a Disability Employment Advisor who can give you specialist advice about finding a job

Volunteering - Volunteers make positive changes to people's lives whilst developing their own skills at the same time. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer in Sandwell.

Sandwell Council - Email the council’s Specialist Employment Team for support to find a job or call them on 0121 569 5981

Here are some other websites that can help you find a job:

Help with transport

There are various schemes in Sandwell and nationally that can help you travel to work. Click the link below to find out how Sandwell Council can help:

Getting around - Here you will find information about Blue Badges, discounted bus passes and rail cards and details about the government's motability scheme.

Page last reviewed: 21/03/2023


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