Helping to influence a fairer future

Helping to influence a fairer future
25 May 2023

By Sarah Moorhouse, Tutor at Project Search

Project SEARCH is a worldwide supported internship programme for young adults with learning disabilities and autism. After speaking at our HR Retreat last year and receiving an excellent reception from the audience we wanted to share a bit more about what they do. We know a few of our clients are already working with them and it could be something beneficial for your business. dfnprojectsearch.org

What started as one nurse in a hospital in Cincinnati faced with a recruitment crisis, has spread to a worldwide movement helping young people with disabilities to develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviours they need to be successful in work. This helps to diversify the talent pool for all companies and develop a truly inclusive working environment. There are over 700 sites internationally with 120 in UK. In the Lancashire area there are currently 4 sites: Burnley Calico, Preston Council, Preston Police HQ and Runshaw Progress Housing.

Here at Project SEARCH Burnley, we work in collaboration with Calico, Burnley College, Lancashire County Council and DFN Project SEARCH. Interns spend one academic year on programme, with three days in work placement and two in the classroom. Calico act as the host business and provide a base room alongside initial placements and a job coach. Burnley College provide an educator who delivers the curriculum which helps embed the knowledge needed for success alongside independence skills. Lancashire County Council provide the funding through EHCP and DFN Project SEARCH provide the model.

Project SEARCH Burnley creates bespoke placement opportunities to meet the skills, talents, and interests of the individual in a person-centred approach. This is done by engaging with local employers who answer the call to action to offer opportunities and help to change perceptions of people with a learning disability. Companies such as Wilko, Motorpoint, Pendleside Hospice, Positive Footprints and Burnley Leisure have all offered twelve-week work placements to interns and in doing so have provided social mobility and life-changing chances. Whilst on placement interns are supported by the job coach which ensures businesses do not need to invest copious amounts of time training. Project SEARCH interns can help to fill the void of entry level jobs in the current recruitment crisis. Offering a placement does not mean a guaranteed employment opportunity, however, many employers have found that the intern is perfect for the role and have offered employment at the end of the placement.

Research shows that only 4.6% of adults with a learning disability or autism are in employment in Lancashire, across the UK this figure is 5.6%. Project SEARCH’s current graduate employment rate is 70% and in Burnley that rate is 100%, meaning all our 2021-22 graduates and now in meaningful, sustainable employment of over 16 hours per week. To continue changing lives and increasing social mobility, Project SEARCH needs to engage with more employers. Employers who can offer interview practice, attend events, offer site visits, or twelve-week placements.

If you would like to be involved in #Inclusionrevolution please contact Project SEARCH Burnley’s Tutor, Sarah Moorhouse, s.moorhouse@burnley.ac.uk 


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