Routes to Work

Routes to Work


This page provides information, advice and guidance on different routes into work including your rights and signposting to organisations and services who can assist with finding suitable employment options and choices.

Route to Work Options


With the right opportunities, preparation and support, young people with SEND can move into employment. Paid work is good for us. It can give us financial independence, friends, and it’s good for our physical and mental health.  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 are the different options?

There are different options for routes into work:

  • Study Programmes 
  • Supported Internships
  • Traineeships
  • Apprenticeships

For specific details on each of these options please see the invidual drop downs on this page.

Additional Information for Young People with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) who are considering route to work options

The Integrated Children’s Disability Service (ICDS) holds an annual Preparing For Adulthood (PFA) Event for young people with Education, Health & Care Plans in Year 9 and above.  The event gives the young people and their parents/carers the opportunity to meet with a variety of Education, Health and Care professionals and gather useful information to support them to make informed choices about their futures as they move into adulthood.  These events offer lots of information around pathways to employment.  A link to our Preparing For Adulthood Events & Directory page can be found in the Post 16, Further and Higher Education section on the SEND Local Offer website

Routes into Work Guide

You can access a Preparing for Adulthood Routes into Work Guide here or by clicking on the icon below:

Routes into work guide








Study programmes

Study programmes

All education for 16-19 year old’s 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.

Young people can generally access free full- time education from ages 16 to 18 (finishing by age 19), which could be extended up to age 25 if a young person has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and continues to access education or training after the age of 19.

What is the purpose of a study programme?
All study programmes must have a ‘core aim’, or main focus, which should reflect what the young person wants to do when they leave school or college.

This can be:

  • a vocational qualification such as a BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council qualification) or NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) to prepare for work
  • work experience, which can be used to gain vocational qualifications by demonstrating work-based skills
  • GCSE or equivalent Maths and English

Study programmes should be designed with employment as the long- term goal, every young person should be given careers information, advice and guidance that will help them to choose the best courses and qualifications that mean employers will be more likely to offer them a job. This includes information about what kind of jobs exist locally, so young people can prepare for jobs that will be available to them.

Where can I find out more on Post-16 education?

You can find out more on post-16 education, including the different options available and how to apply on the SEND Local Offer Website Post-16 Education page.

Supported Internships

Supported Internships

Supported internships are a type of study programme which help 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’. A supported internship could be the right choice if you know you learn best by ‘doing’ (known as a ‘place and train’ approach) and where you need more time or support than would be available through a traineeship or apprenticeship.

Young people and their employers will get the help they need to learn from a job coach, who will support them until they both feel confident that the young person can do the job by themselves. The supported internship will typically last a year and young people won’t get paid, but they should be ready to move into a paid job at the end because of the skills and experience they have gained.

All supported internships should be personalised to the needs of the young person, and flexible so that they meet the needs of the young person and the employer. Hosting a supported internship can bring many benefits to a business and these are higlighted in our 'Supported Internships: Being a Host Employer' leaflet below:

Supported Internships A route into work for young people with special educational needs and disabilities

Supported Internships













Supported Internships













What qualifications do I need to do a supported internship?

None. Commitment, motivation and enthusiasm to work are the most important things. If young people don’t have a grade C or 4 at GCSE or a Level 2 Functional Skills in English and / or maths, they will continue studying English and maths at a suitable and stretching level while they do their supported internship. They may also study for other qualifications that will help them move into work.

Do I need an EHC plan to do a supported internship?

Yes. Please speak to your tutor or EHCP Co-Ordinator at your local authority if you think this is an option for you.

Where do I find out more about supported internships?

Find out more on the Government Website



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 typically last for six months but can be extended for up to a year.

The three main parts of a traineeships are:

  • a work placement
  • work preparation training
  • English and maths where the student is still to achieve GCSEs at grade C or 4, or the Functional Skills equivalent

Colleges, training providers and employers can bring these three things together in the best way to support each young person.

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 an 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. Young people with SEND can access additional support if they need it.

Where do I find out more about Traineeships?

Contact your local college or training provider to see if they are offering traineeship opportunities



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.

Young people can apply for apprenticeships while they are still in school, or when they are in college. To start one, they will need to be:

  • 16 or over by the end of the summer holidays
  • Living in England
  • Not in full-time education

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. But as a general rule, apprenticeships should be open to everyone over the age of 16.

There are, however, English and maths ‘exit requirements’ for apprenticeships set by the Government (qualifications you must achieve to complete your apprenticeship). These vary according to the level of apprenticeship but as a minimum they will be:

  • Level 2 – an English and maths qualification of at least level 1 (Functional Skills Level 1 or GCSE grade E or 2). You must also study for a level 2 qualification in English and maths and take the tests, before taking the end-point assessment or achieving an apprenticeship framework
  • Level 3 or above – level 2 Functional Skills or GCSE qualifications grade A* to C (or 9 to 4) in English and maths before taking the end-point assessment or achieving an apprenticeship framework

If a young person has an EHC plan or statement, or had one in the past, there is flexibility around the English and maths qualifications they would need to complete their apprenticeship. Please speak to your employer or training provider for more information.

As with any other job, an applicant can request extra support known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ for help with the application process and for support on the apprenticeship itself (both at work and while studying). Young people should speak to their tutors or careers advisers at school or college if they have SEND and think they should have reasonable adjustments.

Does a young person need a statement of Special Educational Needs 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 under the Equality Act for an apprentice’s additional costs, and excess learning support up to £19,000.

Access to Work funding is also available to support apprentices in the workplace. And as mentioned above, if a young person has, or previously had, an EHC plan or statement, there may be flexibility around the English and maths qualifications they would need to complete their apprenticeship.

Where do I find out more about Apprenticeships?

Find out more on the Government Website. This includes a link to the Find an Apprenticeship Service, where apprenticeship vacancies are listed and can be applied for. Where an employer is Disability Confident, the logo will display on their vacancies in the service.

Please click the image below for a helpful leaflet on inclusive apprenticeships:
All About Incusive Apprenticeships


Apprenticeship Opportunities in Nottinghamshire

Government information

The GOV.UK website provides further advice and guidance on what an apprenticeship is all about; who can apply and how; details about pay and conditions; as well as where you get further support. Find out more on the Government Website.

Apprenticeships in Nottinghamshire

For more specific information about apprenticeships in Nottinghamshire, including access to details of current vacancies, as well as details about apprenticeships you can find out more on Nottinghamshire County Council's website.

Apprenticeship Support

In Nottinghamshire you can also get support to access apprenticeships by contacting the Futures Group - or Tel: 0800 085 8520. Find out more about how Futures can support you to find an apprenticeship by watching the video below:

The SEND Local Offer website has details on organisations who can offer support with apprenticeships and training for young people with SEND. Please click here Apprenticeship Opportunities or on the icon below:

Apprenticeships and Training Organisations

Careers Advice

Careers Advice

The following services offer careers advice to young people:

Futures Advice, Skills and Employment are a provider of jobs and skills advice and provide a range of services including independent and impartial careers advice for young people. They can be contacted either via telephone:0800 085 85 20 or email:

The National Careers Service provide information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions, on learning, training and work.

UCAS have useful information on finding employment including exploring different jobs and pathways to your career.


The Equality Act and Employment Support

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act became law in 2010. It covers everyone in Britain and protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

How does the Equality Act protect people with a disability in employment?

If you have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, you can use the Equality Act to protect you against discrimination in employment. It requires employers to make reasonable adjustments, provide support and make things accessible.

What the Act can do for you

Under the Equality Act, employers have to make reasonable adjustments to help you. These can include:

  • providing flexible working hours
  • providing special equipment or extra assistance to help you in work
  • providing information in an accessible format such as Braille, Large Print, Easy Read or by using coloured paper
  • making a website accessible
  • providing ramps for wheelchair access
  • providing designated car parking spaces
  • providing adapted toilets
  • providing lifts to access offices or venues which are not on the ground floor
  • making changes to “physical features” – for example to accommodate wheelchairs or a guide/assistance dog

Access to Work

If the help you need at work is not covered by your employer making reasonable adjustments, you may be able to get help from Access to Work. You need to have a paid job, or be about to start or return to one. You’ll be offered support based on your needs, which may include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace.

An Access to Work grant can pay for:

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

You might not get a grant if you already get certain benefits. The money does not have to be paid back and will not affect your other benefits. You can find out further information on the Access to Work system and how to apply on the Government Website or you can click on the easy read guide or by clicking below:

Get help from Access to Work








Where can I get can further information, advice and support?

You can find out further information by reading the Disability Rights Commission Guide or by clicking on the icons below:

your rights to work








Equality Act 2010 Disability Quick Start Guide 







For advice and support you can contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS):

The EASS Helpline can advise and assist you if you feel you have been discriminated under the Equality Act. It can also advise you about reasonable adjustments.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

There is a webcam portal for BSL users.

You can also use an online contact form




Employment Support and Opportunities in Nottinghamshire

Work Choice

If you have a disability or long-term health condition and you are seeking advice to find employment you may be eligible for support through the Work Choice programme.  In Nottinghamshire this is provided by the Shaw Trust.

To find out more about the programme please ask to speak to a Disability Employment adviser at your local Job Centre. You can find where this through the local office search on the Department for Work and Pensions Website. You will need to put in your postcode.


If you live in Nottinghamshire and have a learning disability or autistic spectrum disorder, our i-work team can offer you support to find paid work.

The i-work team can:

  • look at your skills, interests, qualifications and experience
  • help you find and apply for jobs
  • refer you for benefits advice
  • support you to start work
  • carry on giving you support when you find a job to help you stay there

Contact Information:


0300 500 8080



Employment support for people with a disability

Futures Impact/Life Chances

Futures provide person-centred support to 16-24 year olds with special educational and complex needs.

Through this work we're able to work with 15 year olds who are at risk of becoming unemployed at 16.

They offer bespoke services through professional Coaches. This approach enables them to support people to:

  • overcome barriers to learning and achievement
  • achieve at school or college
  • move from education/training into employment
  • secure sustained employment

What the Future Impact Programme Offers

To begin with, the young person will meet with their Future Impact coach who will spend time getting to know them and carrying out an initial assessment, which illustrates the young person’s current situation. This covers:

  • Life and independence skills
  • Appropriate behaviour
  • Time keeping
  • Interview and application readiness
  • Achievements
  • Experience of work
  • Home life and relationships
  • Money
  • Physical and mental wellbeing
  • Safety
  • Leisure
  • Confidence

Who can be referred to Future Impact?

To be eligible for Future Impact support, a young person must be:

  • Aged 16 to 23 and not in employment, education or training


  • Aged 15, in their final term of year 11, and at risk of not going onto employment, education or training in September.

They must also

  • Live in Nottingham City or Nottinghamshire County
  • Have a disability, educational, behavioural or emotional need and received support when you were at school. To be eligible for Future Impact you must have had SEND support at school, such as Teaching Assistant support, working with the Behaviour Support Team or extra time to complete exams. Unfortunately, if you have or have had an Education, Health and Care Plan you are not eligible for the Future Impact programme, however, Futures does have the correct support programme for you, this is called Skills for the Future.

Contact details

To find out more about the Future Impact Programme or to make a referral, please email the team on or telephone: 0800 085 85 20

Other Employment Support

The SEND Local Offer website has details of organisations who can offer employment opportunities, for young people in Nottinghamshire, or support to access employment. Please click here Employment Support  or on the icon below:

Employment opportunities and Support Organisations

Training opportunities in Nottinghamshire

The SEND Local Offer has details on organisations who can offer support with training for young people with SEND. Please click here Training Opportunities or on the icon below:

Apprenticeships and Training Organisations

Independent Travel Training

What is Independent Travel Training ?

Independent Travel Training (ITT) is the delivery of training by staff in schools, colleges, voluntary services and day care services for people who are restricted in their ability to travel unassisted on public transport because of learning or physical disabilities.

Who is Independent Travel Training for?

Independent Travel Training is for people of any age who have learning or physical disabilities, which means they are unable, or are restricted in their ability, to travel unassisted on public transport. The ITT team work with the school, college or provider to deliver the training and can fit this in to the curriculum.

What can Independent Travel Training do for me?

On completion of the programme, participants should be able to travel independently to local and more widespread landmarks, school/college, work, work experience and back home.

Watch the video below on how travel training has enabled one young person to access work experience:

TRAVEL TRAINING FILM from Nottinghamshire Local Offer on Vimeo.

Further information

Find out more on Nottinghamshire County Council's website or by contacting the Independent Travel Training team:

Page last reviewed: 23/01/2024

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