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Education, employment and training

Routes into paid employment

Many young people with learning difficulties or a disability will want to have a job in the future. To achieve this goal they may need additional support during their training or in the work place. Not everyone will be able to undertake full time work whilst others may want to consider self-employment or a micro enterprise. There are an increasing number of options available after school that can lead to work and these are outlined below.


Post 16 Education and Employment Pathways Planner

Deciding what to do after leaving school can be a challenging and confusing time. Most of us want to develop our skills and experiences to prepare us to get a job. But what is the best way?

This Pathway Planner has been put together to help you in your journey into work; whether you have never worked before, are returning to work or if you want to develop your skills in preparation for work. Some of the services listed in this directory will help you consider your education, training or work programme options so you can decide which feels right for you, in your journey after leaving school.


Image of the Post 16 Education and Employment Pathway Planner

Download the Pathway Planner by clicking here. 

Going to Sixth Form or College (Further Education)

The Local Offer website provides details of your local colleges and sixth forms.

Local Colleges have a number of routes that can lead to employment. One option is to undertake academic qualifications (e.g. GCSE’s and A levels) which are accepted entry requirements for some jobs. Alternatively they can lead to into Higher Education and then onto employment.

Another route is to do a vocational (work related) course – these can be in anything from bricklaying and engineering to beauty, tourism and sport. Usually there are different levels of course and entry may depend on GCSE results or other qualifications. These can lead directly to a job or can lead to Higher Education.

Courses run within special educational needs departments (Entry Level) enable students to focus on gaining the skills they will need as they prepare for adulthood and the work place. Some courses will provide work tasters and can directly lead onto Supported Internships and paid work.

The final route is through courses run by the special needs departments. Often these courses are at entry level and enable students to have work tasters and concentrate on gaining the skills they will need for the work place.

Going to University (Higher Education)

Higher Education is a course of study that leads to a degree. Further Education Colleges offer Foundation degrees and Universities offer Honours degrees.

Information on courses and entry requirements can be found on the UCAS website.

For information on what support might be available to help you going to university if you have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), please click here.


Work Based Study Programmes

There are a number of local training providers who offer study programmes. Trainees will gain work experience, undertake work related qualifications and if necessary will continue with their maths and English. Trainees may be entitled to a bursary. It is possible within some study programmes for trainees who have additional needs to have 1 to 1 support.

More information on study programmes:

PfA Factsheet: Study Programmes for Students with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities [PDF] 1.3Mb

Supported Internships

Supported Internships are specialised study programmes for young people who want to move into paid work. They are designed for 16-24 years olds with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). 

You can download the West London Alliance's Guide to Supported Internships leaflet for more information abotu what Supported Internships involve and whether they might be right for you.

Westminster City Council run a Supported Internship Programme every year allowing 10 young people to come and get valuable workplace experience and support across three council departments. You can read more about the Westminster City Council Supported Internship by clicking here. 

Please see West London Alliance's 2020 Guide to Supported Internship by clicking this link.


Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to gain a recognised qualification and develop work related skills while earning a salary. There are usually entry requirements as young people need to be working towards at least a level 2 qualification. If you do not have the entry requirements for an apprenticeship, a Supported Internship may be an alternative route into employment accessible for you.

Vacancies can be found on the National Apprenticeship website.


Doing voluntary work can be a good way of getting some work experience which can help when you are applying for paid work. Your local Volunteer Centre has details of local volunteer vacancies:

Kensington and Chelsea Volunteer Centre

One Westminster - Charity and volunteering work

Running Your Own Business

Self-employment/micro enterprises

There may be a number of reasons for choosing to become self-employed. You may have an idea for your own business, you may want to work in an environment which you can adjust to suit your needs or self-employment may be the best way of arranging a job around your skills. Setting up your own business can seem daunting and it is hard work but it can also be very rewarding and there are organisations that can offer help, guidance and financial support in the form of grants or loans.

One useful point of contact if you’re considering self-employment is the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre Plus office. They can help you decide whether self-employment is a viable option and help you find sources of funding and support.

The Enterprise Allowance will give people getting Jobseeker’s Allowance access to business mentoring and a financial package. This includes a weekly allowance payable over 26 weeks’ worth up to £1,274, allowing you to establish your business and cash flow. You can also get a low cost loan to help with start-up costs.

You might be able to take part in the New Enterprise Allowance if you’re aged 18 and over and have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for three months or more and you have a viable business idea. More information can be found on the GOV.UK website

Disabled Entrepreneurs Network

The Association of Disabled Professionals website aims to provide networking opportunities and share good practice for self-employed disabled people and those setting up their own businesses.

Support to Help You into Work

There a number of organisations available to offer advice and support to people looking for employment in addition to the organisations listed above.

Westminster Employment -

This is a supported employment service working with Westminster residents age 18+ with a disability who want to gain employment. 

Please follow this link for the referral form, and sharing form.

Westminster Employment Service

This is a employment service working with all Westminster residents age 16+ who want support to get an apprenticeship or job.

London Future Disability and Employability programme -

This is for young Londoners with a learning disability, facing social isolation and loneliness. Using sport and specialised mentoring, these young Londoners unite to compete in employability challenges to improve their career aspirations and become more integrated in their local communities.

Mencap - Genius Within Employability Programme

Genius Within deliver two new employability programmes in partnership with Mencap in Brixton, Lambeth for all young people with disabilities living in London to support them into work/training. They offer bespoke person centred strength-based training which will be a mixture of face to face and virtual. There is also an option to get level 2 English and Maths if required. Both programmes provide ongoing support (up to 26 weeks) after placement in training/employment as well and can help with support in the setting and agreeing and reviewing reasonable adjustments.


Employ Me: helps 16-24 year olds with Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD etc.. offering 1:1 coaching , support and group sessions to help young people get into employment or training. More info can be found in the leaflets in the downloads section. To refer, please complete the referral form which can be found in the downloads.


Able2: helps 16-24 year olds with physical disabilities or long-term health conditions to achieve their employment, education and training goals. aged 16-24, who have a physical disability or long-term health condition. To refer, please email

Job Centre Plus – Disability Employment Adviser 

This service can give help and advice to claimants looking for a job.

Employment agencies –

help employers recruit staff to temporary and permanent vacancies they have. Remploy are a specialist employment service for people with disabilities.

Some people may be entitled to in work benefits or support via Access to Work. Find more information about the Access to Work fund on the Preparing for Adulthood website.

Personal Budget

Last Updated 07/08/2021

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