Five ways to approach a business for SEND work experience

In this blog, Elaine Dale shares her five ways to approach a business for work opportunities for SEND learners (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities).  

As a Centre for Excellence in SEND, City College Norwich believes in providing rewarding work opportunities to our learners with SEND.  

We understand the challenges of the labour market and its impact on our SEND learners in gaining work opportunities. Our approach is to focus on a business case for inclusion and show why it makes good business sense to hire learners with SEND.  

Here are our five approaches we take when seeking work experience and opportunities for our learners with SEND: 

1. Discuss the financial benefit of employing learners with SEND 

When encouraging businesses to hire learners with SEND, it’s important to show them you understand they are a business. Discuss the financial benefits first – especially when it comes to recruitment. With our SEND learners, employers can save on recruitment time and costs, access a wider labour pool, improve staff retention and reduce absences and lateness. 


2. Make a business case for an inclusive culture 

Discuss how employing learners with SEND will enhance and improve the work culture at the business. By removing barriers, the business will be championing a more inclusive and diverse workforce. The business will also be able to anticipate the diverse needs of their staff by treating everyone fairly and equally. 


3. Share how learners with SEND could encourage innovation  

Good businesses are constantly seeking ways to innovate and improve. Employing learners with SEND invites a talent pool of people who enjoy diverse ways of thinking, which could bring more innovation into the business. Furthermore, a workforce that represents the diversity of its customers is more likely to design with their needs in mind. 


4. Highlight the positive impact SEND brings to their brand 

When discussing employment opportunities, try to highlight the benefits to the business’s brand. By employing learners with SEND, the business’s reputation will be one that embraces inclusion and diversity and one that takes ownership of their corporate social responsibility.  


5. Discuss the ways SEND learners can create a positive environment 

Finally, it’s worth discussing the benefits of employing SEND learners in the working environment. SEND learners are typically polite, keen, willing and harbour a positive attitude. By including SEND learners, a business will increase staff morale and actively recognise the value of each person and what they contribute.   


As a community of passionate SEND professionals, we are all working hard to support and give the very best opportunities for our learners. The ETF has created a range of supportive resources and toolkits on Inclusive FE and resources to help learners with SEND find work.  

For more information and support on SEND, please visit the ETF website


Elaine is Director of SEND Support & College Nursery at City College Norwich. 

This article has been adapted from an article originally published in the summer 2020 edition of inTuition.