The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has partnered with Highfield School, Wakefield Council, HFT Supported Employment Agency, Pennine Camphill Community and Wakefield College, 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 aimed at supporting young people with learning disabilities into paid employment, running at 30+ sites across the UK.
The Project SEARCH programme, which The Trust launched on 1 September this year, is a one year supported training and employment opportunity for adults aged 17-25 with a learning disability, which takes place entirely at the Pinderfields Hospital site. 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 somewhere in the community using the skills they have acquired at Pinderfields Hospital.
This year there will be seven trainees based at the hospital for one academic year, where they gain 30 weeks of placement experience in different departments in the hospital, including Recruitment, Facilities, Medical Records, Medical Staffing, 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 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 their on-site job coach and tutor, 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.
Intern Luke Anderson who works on Gate 18 (Maternity and Labour) at Pinderfields Hospital, said; “I really like giving out drinks to the patients and sandwiches at lunch time. Sometimes I help with the cleaning, wiping all the surfaces to keep them clean. I work with Shirley; she's friendly and polite and shows me how to do things properly. The patients’ favourite drink is hot chocolate.”
Gordon Smith, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said; “We are delighted to support this project and very much look forward to working with our partners to further develop the programme in the future and offer many more supported learning students in the Mid Yorkshire region 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."