Pathways into employment

Employer toolkit

Over 7 million people (17.5%) of working age in the UK are disabled or have a health condition. (Disability Confident 2016).  Furthermore, young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) leave education with only a 5.9% chance of securing paid employment (BASE 2018/19 data). 

However, many of us will have some type of disability at some time in our lives and we are all working longer, so it makes sense for us as employers to consider how we can make those small adjustments that enable us all to flourish at work.

Finding the best people is essential to succeeding in business, and being more inclusive in the workplace will help you to tap into a wider pool of talent that you are unlikely to have reached before, reflecting the diversity of your customers and drive business growth. 

By employing someone with a learning difficulty or disability you will not only promote diversity in the workplace but enhance your reputation and meet your corporate social responsibility. 

And if you have jobs that are hard to recruit to, or tasks that your staff struggle to fit in to their workload, you may find that a candidate with a learning difficulty or disability would be a good fit in your business. 

They may just need a bit of extra support or adjustment, such as an adaptation to their work station, or support from a Job Coach who will accompany them in their first few months of work. 

What do we mean by an Inclusive Pathway?

While people with a learning difficulty may need additional supervision and training, they can also be reliable and dedicated workers who help to improve staff morale and reduce staff turnover.

There are various skills and employment programmes which provide this additional support and training, such as Supported Internships, Traineeships and Supported or Inclusive Apprenticeships, as well as help for employers to understand the candidate’s needs, job match and get the right support.  

Next steps for an inclusive workplace

Creating an inclusive workplace is not only easy to do but crucial to business success.  With the right support, and if placed in a suitable role, people with a learning difficulty can perform exceptionally well. 

With this site, we hope to develop a central repository with guidance, tools and support that will make it easier for you as an employer to engage with SEND students and potential candidates with a learning difficulty or disability. 

SBC’s Supported Employment Service can also provide tailored support throughout the entire process – from recruitment through to on-the-job support and beyond.

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs.  This applies to all workers, including trainees, apprentices, contract workers and business partners.

What kind of reasonable adjustments can be made? 

Reasonable adjustments include:

  • changing the recruitment process so a candidate can be considered for a job. Visit the Government webpage about reasonable adjustments.
  • doing things another way, such as allowing someone with social anxiety disorder to have their own desk instead of hot-desking
  • making physical changes to the workplace, like installing a ramp for a wheelchair user or an audio-visual fire alarm for a deaf person
  • letting a disabled person work somewhere else, such as on the ground floor for a wheelchair user
  • changing their equipment, for instance providing a special keyboard if they have arthritis
  • allowing employees who become disabled to make a phased return to work, including flexible hours or part-time working
  • offering employees training opportunities, recreation and refreshment facilities 

Access to work funding 

Access to work can help employees get or stay in work if they have a physical or mental health condition or disability. The support they get will depend on their needs. Through access to work, an individual can apply for: 

  • a grant to help pay for practical support with their work
  • support with managing their mental health at work
  • money to pay for communication support at job interviews 

This is not funding that employers can apply for, but for individuals to apply for themselves. However, it is useful for employers to know that this may be available if an employee is eligible.  

Resources and weblinks for further support

The Employer SEND Forum is to develop, enhance and grow the supported internship offer in Swindon.

A Supported Internship is a year-long study programme for 16-24 year olds who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) with an end goal of securing competitive employment.

The forum is made up of: Swindon Borough Council SEND, Swindon SEND Families Voice, STEP (Youth Voice), Employers, Training providers, Colleges, DWP (Department for Work & Pensions), and other various community organisations.

The forum is here to:

  • promote and champion diverse, supportive, and inclusive workplace culture of supported internships, both inside and outside of your organisation
  • develop a strategic approach and action plan aimed at improving employment outcomes for young people with SEND
  • bring together all the local partners who can develop and deliver pathways to sustainable employment and promote collaborative working
  • create routes that will support more young people with SEND into paid employment
  • identify, develop and promote Supported Internship resources that employers can access to make meaningful paid work a realistic outcome for all children and young people with SEND

For further information or to get involved, contact: or get in tocu using this referral link.

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