Ten West London College students graduated on 27 June from the University of West London supported internships programme. Attended by family, friends and UWL staff their graduation event was deeply moving and uplifting. Three of the interns have landed jobs in retail and hospitality and the others have gained a wealth of experience and confidence from their UWL rotations.
Megan Murphy has already started work in a duty-free shop at Heathrow Airport. Klaudia Mackowiak starts as a barista in the UWL Cafe in July, and Mohamed Sheikh starts shortly too at UWL as a kitchen porter.
Klaudia, aged 20, says: “I’m so excited about my job at UWL, the supported internship has been a fantastic opportunity for me.”
Each intern has taken part in one of 3 rotations, which are business administration, hospitality and catering, grounds maintenance, HR, finance, library, reception, student bar and cleaning.
Kartar Kaur Kallha, aged 23 said: “I enjoyed my HR rotation most of all and I am now looking for a business administration role or apprenticeship.”
The 10-month supported internship is designed to give young people aged 18 – 24 with learning disabilities and autism direct experience of the world of work. Job coaches evaluate the tasks involved and skills required for each rotation and ensure the interns gain the knowledge they need to perform well in their roles. Supported Interns carry out their rotations four days a week at UWL from 9am to 3pm.
The UWL-supported internship began as a pilot project in September 2021 and was designed and progressed through lockdown-stricken periods of home working in the preceding months. The project has been such a success that UWL is hosting another cohort of supported interns in September 2022.
Neil Henderson, UWL Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development said: “The supported internship programme is a perfect fit for UWL’s commitment to widening participation, access to education and inclusivity.”
Ailish Byrne, West London College teacher on the supported internship programme, said: “We worked closely with UWL and our other partners to create stimulating work rotations that the interns would respond to positively, and enhance their confidence. The experience has been transformative for each of the participants.”
The University of West London has entered its supported internship programme into the Times Higher Awards. Known as ‘The Oscars of Higher Education’, the entry has been submitted under the Community Involvement category. Award winners will be announced at a prestigious ceremony in November.
As well as the University of West London and West London College, the UWL-supported internship partners are Kaleidoscope, Sabre, DFN Project Search, Ealing Council and West London Alliance.