Hft | Empowering individuals | Supported employment

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Supported Employment


Having a job isn’t just about earning an income – it can help to build confidence, develop skills and widen friendships. However, finding and sustaining employment can be tough for people with learning disabilities.

In 2018-19, the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) estimated that only 5.9% of people with a learning disability are in paid work.

At Hft, we believe that anyone who wants to work should have the opportunity to do so, which is why wherever one of the people we support expresses an interest in getting a job, our supported employment teams will work with them to find a paid or voluntary role that suits them. We’ve arranged successful placements everywhere from hotels and shops, to hospitals and TV studios.

What is supported employment?

Supported employment is used to give some extra help and support to people to find and stay in a paid job, for example people who have a learning disability and/or an autism spectrum condition.

In Hft, Employability Coaches work with you to find out the best way to support you, plan this support and then make sure that it happens. Employability Coaches will be able to support you to:

  • Search for the right types of jobs which suit your skills and your preferences
  • Write a CV
  • Apply for jobs
  • Be prepared for an interview
  • Attend an interview
  • Learn how to complete the tasks needed in your job
  • Complete training in work
  • Communicate with your colleagues/employer
  • Manage changes within your job/work place

When you start work, Employability Coaches will work with you on the job to learn the skills needed in the role, and over time will fade their support as you become independent in the role. They will be able to come back and provide extra support if your job changes or you need to learn something new.

Finding a job

When someone feels ready to begin work, we begin the process of matching them to a role, taking into account the requirements of both the jobseeker and the employer. We support them to put together a CV, and help them prepare for and attend interviews.

When someone begins in paid employment, we continue to offer support to help them:

  • To get a ‘better off calculation’ around their benefits
  • To change their benefits if this is needed
  • Provide information needed for pre-employment checks
  • To take part in and successfully complete induction training
  • To learn the routines and tasks of the job
  • To work to a high standard and at the speed their employer expects
  • With adaptations to the work place, such as putting in place colour coding systems, or using assistive technology to help them in their role
  • With communication in the workplace
  • To learn new tasks and routines as they change
  • To take part in and complete ongoing training, or training to help their development
  • To understand their employer’s policies and procedures
  • To progress their career
  • During an appraisal or supervision with their employer
  • To understand processes, such as booking annual leave.

We also provide support for their employer.

Finding Volunteering Opportunities

We also offer support to people with learning disabilities who would like to volunteer as a means of getting employment experience that can lead to paid work.

Hft and DFN Project SEARCH

DFN Project SEARCH is a supported internship programme for young adults who have a learning disability or autism spectrum condition.

Hft works with DFN Project SEARCH and other partners at several programmes within the UK. If you become an intern on one of our programmes, you will complete work placements in three different job roles within a large business, over the course of an academic year.  Alongside this, you will learn about employment in a classroom environment. The goal is for interns to be ready for paid employment by the end of their internship. There are excellent rates of employment success on DFN Project SEARCH, and it really helps interns to start long-term careers.

Find out more about Hft and DFN Project SEARCH

Off to Work courses

In some regions, we run Off to Work courses that are specially designed for people who have little or no experience of work. They’re open to anyone we support who is motivated to find a job, and cover areas such as:

  • Employment ethics
  • Health and safety
  • Job searches
  • Interview skills
  • Travel

We also run personal development training to support the job search process, in topics including advocacy, relationships and confidence building.

Are you an employer looking for staff?

If so, give us a call – we’d love to hear from you. You may be interested to know that research from the Joseph Rowntree Trust shows that people with learning disabilities are generally reliable, more likely to stay with one employer for a long time and tend to take less time off.

Contact your local Hft service.