The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has partnered with Kirklees College, REAL employment, C&K Careers, Jobcentre Plus and Kirklees Council to run the very first Project SEARCH programme based in Dewsbury, which aims to give young adults with learning difficulties the chance to gain valuable work experience, in a programme called Project SEARCH.
Project SEARCH is an international training programme which has the sole aim of supporting young people with learning disabilities into paid employment, running at 30+ sites across the UK.
The Project SEARCH programme, which The Trust first launched on 1 September 2017 at Pinderfields Hospital, is a one year supported training opportunity for adults aged 17-25 with a learning disability. Project SEARCH provides real life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills, as well as formulating a CV, to help young people make successful transitions from school to productive adult life. The goal for each student is competitive employment at the hospital or elsewhere in the community using the skills they have acquired at Dewsbury and District Hospital.
This year there will be seven trainees based at Dewsbury and District Hospital for one academic year, where they will gain 30 weeks of placement experience in different departments in the hospital, including Portering, IT and many more.
The trainees are matched to their placements in terms of skills, abilities and interests, and this differs for each student. The trainees are supported by their local mentors who work alongside them in each department, helping them to learn the skills required in each placement, until they can perform the tasks independently.
The trainees also receive support from the project’s job coach and tutor, who are on site and who support them in placement and help them to develop an employability plan, CV and write letters to employers. The trainees have classroom based learning on topics such as employability skills, social skills and health and safety in the hospital.
Gordon Smith, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said; “We are delighted to have been invited to host Project SEARCH at Dewsbury and District Hospital. This project builds on the success of MY Project SEARCH Pinderfields, and we very much look forward to working with our partners to develop the programme in the future and offer many more supported learning students in the Kirklees District the chance to develop life skills and gain the confidence to successfully enter the world of work.
“Internship programmes like Project SEARCH demonstrate the untapped talent pool that is available to all employers, and promotes the benefit of employing a diverse customer base.
“We will hopefully encourage other employers to examine who and how they recruit."
Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council and councillor for Batley West, said: “I was very impressed and inspired by the youngsters I met. Each one was unique and had their own ambition in what they wanted to do. I was amazed at the way they wanted to contribute to society.”
“Far too often people with disabilities are overlooked and this creates inequalities within our workforce that then has a wider adverse impact. The council and I are fully committed to supporting young people with learning disabilities to get the best start possible in the world of employment. From what I’ve seen there is talent and skills that all organisations can tap into, and I am confident all the youngsters I met will do well in whatever they do. Kirklees Council is taking a leading role in Project SEARCH. I look forward to seeing these young people progress into fulfilling careers of their choice at the end of the programme.”