Routes Into Employment

This page provides information about options for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to help them move into paid employment.  For more detailed information please look at the NDTi Routes in to work document – Click here

If I have SEND, is it realistic to think about paid work? Absolutely. With the right opportunities, preparation and support, nearly all young people with SEND can move into employment.  That means that all young people with SEND, and the adults who support them – including parents, teachers and tutors – need to know what choices are available. They should be thinking about the best way to prepare for paid work, based on young people’s career hopes and qualifications.

What does the law say about leaving in education? The law says that all young people must be in education or training until at least their 18th birthday.

How do I find out what’s available in my local area? Every local authority must publish a ‘Local Offer’ – these can be found online – Click here


Study ProgrammesPexels Mart Production 7163068

All education for 16-19-year olds is delivered as a ‘study programme’, which brings together the help that young people need to get a job and live independently. Study programmes include qualifications, work experience, and life skills. Having good English and maths skills is really important to employers, so young people who haven’t achieved a GCSE grade 4 in these subjects continue to study English and maths as part of their study programme – either as a GCSE, Functional Skills or in another way that is suitable and stretching for the young person. 

Supported internships

Supported internships are a type of study programme that helps young people aged between 16 and 24 to get a job. What makes them different is that young people do most of their learning at work, ‘on the job’. 

What qualifications do I need to do a supported internship? None. Commitment, motivation and enthusiasm to work are the most important things. 

Do I need a statement of SEN or EHC plan to do a supported internship? Yes. Please speak to your tutor or SEN contact at your local authority if you think this is an option for you.

Where do I find out more about supported internships?:

For more information – Click here


Traineeships are for young people who want to work, but who need extra help and support. They offer young people training and work experience to give them the skills and confidence to get a job or apprenticeship, alongside support to improve their maths and English. They last between six weeks and six months.

What qualifications do I need to do a traineeship? Young people need to be aged between 16 and 24, qualified below Level 3 (in other words, below A level) and with limited experience of work. A traineeship could be for you if you are motivated to work, and likely to be ready to start paid work within six months, or need extra support before you move onto an apprenticeship.

Do I need a statement of SEN or EHC plan to do a traineeship? No. As long as you meet the requirements above, you can take part, including if you have a statement of SEN or EHC plan. 

Where do I find out more about Traineeships?: As well as looking at your Local Offer, you can follow this weblinks:

You can also contact your local college or training provider to see if they are offering traineeship opportunities

ApprenticeshipsPexels Andrea Piacquadio 3846269

Apprenticeships combine training in a job with study. Depending on the level, Apprenticeships take 1 to 5 years to complete. Apprentices will:

  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay
  • get time for study related to their role (usually one day a week)

Apprenticeships are available at different levels, from level 2 to level 7. As the levels get higher, the apprenticeships become more advanced. For example, a level 2 (intermediate) apprenticeship is equivalent to GCSE level, and levels 6 and 7 are equivalent to a degree.

What qualifications does a young person need to do an apprenticeship? Applying for an apprenticeship is a competitive process. Apprenticeships are jobs, so employers decide who they are going to employ, and what the entry requirements should be.  For example, some employers may ask that the young person has GCSEs including English and maths at certain grades. As a general rule, apprenticeships should be open to everyone over the age of 16.

Does a young person need a statement of SEN or EHC plan to do an Apprenticeship? No – apprenticeships are open to everyone aged over 16 living in England not in full-time education.

What support is available for apprentices with additional needs? The Government provides extra funding to support apprentices with SEND. Payments of £1000 each are available for training providers and employers with apprentices aged 16-18, or 19-24 who have an EHC plan or were previously in care.

Training providers can also claim learning support of up to £150 per month (up to £1,800 per year) from the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) to support reasonable adjustments (for more information of reasonable adjustment – click here). 

Where do I find out more about Apprenticeships?: You can find out more about apprenticeships and search for them on Click here 

Access to Work 

Support for individuals and employers

Access to Work is a fund provided by the Department for Work and Pensions for help at work that isn’t covered by an employer making reasonable adjustments. The support offered is based on a person’s needs.  An Access to Work grant can pay for:

  • special equipment, adaptations or support worker services to help do things like answer the phone or go to meetings
  • help getting to and from work

The money doesn’t have to be paid back and won’t affect other benefits.

For more information please contact your Connexions Personal Adviser.