Businesses discover how employees with learning disabilities can add value at Supported Employment Conference

6 Jul 2017

Petroc staff shared the results of a collaborative project looking at employment for students with learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD) at a conference last week (June 28).

Held at the Mid Devon campus, the Pathways to Supported Employment Conference celebrated the results of the Erasmus+ funded project which saw staff working with Duvelholms Gymnasiesärskola – a Swedish special school – to look at ways of delivering supported internships.

The formats studied combined on-the-job training with specialised support on an employment programme which developed soft skills. Petroc and Duvelholms have produced a range of materials to aid students on supported internships, which were tested by Petroc students on placement in Sweden.

Alex Wittram, LDD Project Researcher at Petroc, has spoken to Swedish politicians, employers and educators about Petroc’s supported learning provision – which has attracted a lot of attention in the country.

She explained: “In the UK only 6% of adults with a learning disability are in paid employment (according to the HSCIC). Following the implementation of the Supported Internship programme here at Petroc we have seen our employment rate for supported learners hit 22%.

“That figure is about the same for Duvelholm’s learners so this project has given us the chance to identify how we can increase that percentage and identify ways of helping learners to get a job and keep it.”

Practitioners from across the South West, as well as a range of other stakeholders, attended the conference to discover how LDD students can add value to a company and how businesses can be supported by Petroc.

Rob Lott, from the Calvert Trust Exmoor, was one of the local employers in attendance.

He said: “The Calvert Trust regularly takes on interns who work alongside our own staff in a variety of roles such as housekeeping and on reception. We have been really impressed with the contribution they make to our business and are proud that we are able to give them the opportunity to develop their skills.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the Erasmus+ funded project or about Supported Learning at Petroc, please contact

(Pictued are Danny Dibble, Laurence Haydon and Ben Hoare, with an employee from ICA supermarket in Katrineholm, Sweden, who took part in one of Petroc’s supported internships.)


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