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Eastleigh College becomes the first College in the UK to offer a Supported Apprenticeship for students with Supported Learning needs

Eastleigh College provides all students with the knowledge and skills they need to prepare them for their career. In 2016, the college created Supported Internships, a scheme which acts as a bridge between education and employment for students with learning difficulties, ensuring they have a support system in place for this transition.

Supported Internships have been a great success over the past two years, with over 78% of students who finished the programme last year progressing on to paid employment or further training.

However, the success of the Supported Internship highlighted a missed opportunity for another type of Learning Support programme; a Supported Apprenticeship. Gill Sommers, Head of Student Support and Supported Learning explained:

“The College have been offering a very successful Supported Internship Programme for the last three years. The natural progression for learners on this programme was a Supported Apprenticeship where learners gain a qualification whilst they are in paid employment.”

This training programme combines the Supported Internship model with the Apprenticeship framework. Apprentices will be assessed in the workplace in the same fashion as a traditional Apprenticeship, but will also be assigned a Job Coach to provide the support network they might need.

Conner Newcombe is the first Supported Apprentice at Eastleigh College. Conner began his Hospitality and Catering Apprenticeship with local business, The Garden Society, earlier this month. Conner had always wanted to do an Apprenticeship but was concerned, that without extra support, he would struggle with the theory of the programme. He commented:

“Despite always wanting to, I never thought that I would be able to start an Apprenticeship due to my learning difficulties. However, the Supported Apprenticeship has provided me with the framework and support I need to be able to complete the training programme. With the amazing provision and guidance from Aaron and Eastleigh College, I’m excited for my Apprenticeship to begin!”

Aaron Duck, the Director of the Garden Society is thrilled to have Conner as an employee and be the first employer to have a Supported Apprentice on the team. He remarked:

“As our business has grown and developed in the last 10 years, it has always been important that we grow a diverse group of employees. Not only will this be a great platform for Conner to start a professional career with us, but it will also heighten development within our core business and help motivate current staff to help Conner achieve. We are really excited to be part of something new, and be the first employer to take this step with the College in providing Supported Apprenticeships.”

As Eastleigh College is an industry leader in Apprenticeships, and with the guidance of the Supported Learning team the future looks bright for Supported Apprenticeships at the College.

Matthew Phelps, Vice Principal Commercial at the College, explains:

“The College and the employers have, in partnership, put a significant amount of ongoing support in place for the Supported Apprentices and firmly believe that the students will continue to progress with their careers and personal development. The College will offer this year’s intake of Supported Interns the same progression opportunity next year.”

To find out more about Supported Apprenticeships or our Supported Internship programme, please email