Setting up Supported Internships for young people with SEND in Yeovil

13 February 2024

In partnership with Project Search, Leonardo has launched a Supported Internship scheme for young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at its site in Yeovil, the Home of British Helicopters.

The purpose of Project Search is to find and develop host organisations to deliver Supported Internships. These Internships are a structured, work-based study programmes for 16 to 24-year-olds with SEND, who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

The Internship aims to give those who may not normally have the opportunity of working in a similar environment the best opportunity of securing a role within one of the host businesses, or give them enough experience to help secure a role outside of the organisation.

The Interns will be supported on-site by Georgina Johnson from local Somerset-based non-profit organisation, Discovery, who will be their work coach during their time on site. Their placements are also supplemented by two classroom based sessions each day, one at the start and the end of each working day. These will be delivered on-site by Lucy-Ella Robinson from Yeovil College.

Following on from an assessment centre in 2023, January 2024 saw the Induction and start of on-site placements for the Interns. The first two starting within Leonardo Helicopters UK Customer Support department and then subsequent placements starting with fellow companies on the scheme, Kuehne & Nagel and Sodexo.

Steve Cox, Leonardo Customer Support and Training (CS&T) Governance Manager, who has been pivotal in the development and facilitation of the placements stated:

"Leonardo sees this as something positive to engage in, and due to the breadth of work we perform in the company, CS&T is seen as an area that can offer exciting placements/internships. It is a great opportunity for us to get involved with and why wouldn't we support this?

"We have now started identifying two young people to work in our Digital and Material Service functions. It will be exciting to see them in their journey with us through to completion of their internships.”

The co-ordination of the Supported Internships partnership has involved a huge number of local stakeholders. Other than those identified above, Julie Young from Somerset Council has been a critical part in supporting the arrangements. Julie commented:

“Somerset Council are thrilled to be working with Leonardo, Sodexo and Kuehne & Nagel to deliver their inspirational and innovative Supported Internship. The programme enables young people with SEND to learn essential work and technical skills, on the job, with the support of specialist Job Coaches. The Supported Internship demonstrates partnership at its very best – including Yeovil College providing the education elements, Discovery’s Job Coaches, and Leonardo coordinating and providing an exciting range of work placements for the interns.

"The aim of Supported Internships is to enable participants to move into permanent employment either with the host company or with another employer, and Leonardo are certainly helping to address the current situation where only 5% of SEND young people nationally are in sustained employment.”

The scheme differs from Leonardo's usual internships, in terms of placements and rotations. Whereas normally interns would rotate around an area based on the specialist skills required for a role, within the Supported Internship programme, we have had to rethink this process and align the placements for the individuals and their skills set. So, each Intern could potentially have a uniquely different experience during their time with the host organisations.