Over the past year, an employer-led group has considered transitions to work for young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). The Group has now reported its conclusions and recommendations to the Disability Minister, Justin Tomlinson.

The challenge is clear. Every year, around 120,000 young people with SEND join the labour market from education, with up to four times the risk of unemployment. Stemming this ‘pipeline’ is crucial to cutting the disability employment rate and ensuring that all young people have a fair chance. But opportunities are currently being missed.

We have reviewed the evidence, and drawn on the knowledge of a wide range of practitioners, experts and employers. We found powerful examples of employers working in partnership with education and training providers, but not enough. We need to give this work a significant boost. We have identified five practical steps that we are confident can make a difference:

  • A call to action for employers – build into Disability Confident a commitment to key steps flowing from the Transitions work, such as recruiting supported interns and disabled trainees/apprentices, working with schools, colleges and recruitment agencies.
  • A rapid expansion in Supported Internships – we know these work for young people with moderate to severe learning difficulties. But we need to boost take-up and draw in more employers and education providers.
  • Extend the internship approach to more students – Elements of the internship model (such as job coaches) can improve employment progression for students with milder impairments, making traineeships and apprenticeships inclusive and effective for all.
  • Make success mainstream – raise expectations for success and increase leverage in mainstream programmes, ending acceptance of poor outcomes for young people with SEND, helping them navigate successfully to employment.
  • An inclusive careers strategy – the forthcoming DfE careers strategy should address concerns about the disconnect between careers and disability advice. The National Careers Service, the Careers and Enterprise Company and partners (including Jobcentre Plus) should act to improve outcomes for young people with SEND.

We have attached the full report, and a covering summary, which sets out crisply the key issues and five-point action plan. We are urging government, employers and relevant organisations to adopt the action plan.

Please feel free to pass on the report to others in your organisation and networks. We are of course also happy for the report to be reproduced or quoted, in communications or on websites.

If you wanted any more information on the Group and its work, please contact any of: