Amazon launched its Supported Internship programme in 2021, helping young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to gain work experience and skills as they transition to employment.

According to the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE), only 4.8% of people with a known learning disability in England are employed. This represents a large population of individuals who are underrepresented in the UK workforce.

Amazon has reached Level 3 ‘Leader’ status as part of the government’s Disability Confident employer scheme. The award sees Amazon achieve the highest level of the UK’s flagship workplace disability accreditation.

How Amazon supports young people through supported internships

Amazon’s Supported Internship programme aims to help more people into employment through both classroom education and practical work experience across different job functions. Through the classroom sessions, the young people will develop their English and maths skills, as well as CV writing and other workplace skills. In addition, they will experience three different operational job functions at their site to gain practical experience in the workplace which will offer them an understanding of how Amazon’s processes work.

Last year, Amazon teamed up with DFN Project SEARCH, a national charity which specialises in supported internships, to expand the programme and offer more opportunities to people across the UK. Project SEARCH works directly with regional colleges and businesses to create supported internships for young people in their final of education.

“I am thrilled to be celebrating National Supported Internship Day with Amazon this year. Working together, we are already making a significant impact on the lives of young people with a learning disability and/or autism spectrum condition, providing valuable skills training and pathways to employment. Our collaboration is going from strength to strength and I am excited to see what we can achieve in the future.” - Claire Cookson, Chief Executive, DFN Project SEARCH

This Supported Internships Day, we caught up with two people who have been a part of the programme to hear about their experiences.

The internship made me more resilient

Jeanis Rushton-Walker working at Amazon's fulfilment centre in Doncaster

Jeanie Ruston-Walker, 20, is one of the current interns on the Supported Internship programme, based at our fulfilment centre in Doncaster. She joined in September 2023, and has three months left on the programme. Here is what she has to say about her experience so far.

“Before I started the internship at Amazon I was studying foundation studies at college, which is where I found out about the programme. I was a bit nervous about getting started, but after learning a bit more about the programme I decided to just go for it, and I have really enjoyed the past six months. I started with a few other interns and we worked together for the first part of the programme, which really helped us to ease into things as a group.

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“The work can be challenging sometimes, but it is really rewarding being able to build up and perfect your skills. One of my proudest moments so far was in my current role, where I wrap pallets. I really struggled with getting it right, but with lots of practice, confidence in myself and help from the team I was able to get it perfect! I really appreciate how the job instructor and the teams on site have adapted the work, both in the classroom and on the shop floor to make learning as accessible as possible for me and the other interns.

"These past six months have really helped me to grow in so many ways. I think I am more resilient when faced with a challenge, more mature and more confident in my ability to solve an issue or work as part of a team. I think the internship has been amazing for helping me to develop and prepare for the future, and I am really looking forward to finding a full-time job in the future!

"My advice for anyone considering joining a supported internship is, give it a go – it was even better than I thought!”

The internship helped me be more independent

Noel Francis Jenkinson works at Amazon's Merch on-demand site in Daventry

Noel Francis Jenkinson, 20, has been at Amazon’s Merch-On-Demand site in Daventry since April 2023. Noel’s Amazon journey began as a supported intern and he has since gone on to get a job at Amazon. Noel shared with us his thoughts on the internship and how it helped him to prepare for his current role.

“I found out about the internship through my college and signed up. I knew from the start that it would help me to hit my career goals. I have had a few different roles since joining, from packing products to looking out for any issues in clothes before we send them out.

"Being able to stay at Amazon even after the internship has been great, and the skills I learned have helped me to be my best self in the role. I think the biggest thing I took away from the programme has been my confidence. When I started I was too nervous to make mistakes and to ask for help when I needed it. Now, I am able to trust in my ability and if I do get stuck I have a great team that I can speak to.

"The recognition I received from the site was awesome, and it is great that some of the team now come to me to ask for advice about products! Outside of the skills I have learned at work, I feel that the internship has helped me to be more independent outside of work. In particular, I am more confident with taking new journeys and figuring out the best commute to work without asking for help.

“My advice for anyone looking to take part in a supported internship is, don’t be hesitant to get involved and don’t be shy to ask questions or for help. If you don’t ask you won’t learn! In my experience, people are willing to help!”

Learn more about Amazon’s commitment to disability inclusion.