The Trust has partnered with Wakefield Council, HFT Supported Employment Agency, Wakefield College, Kirklees Council and Kirklees College to give young adults with learning difficulties the chance to gain valuable work experience, in a programme called Project SEARCH.
Project SEARCH in Wakefield and Kirklees is a unique pre-employment program based at Pinderfields and Dewsbury Hospitals, which helps young people with learning disabilities gain the skills they need to get meaningful paid jobs.
The programme, which was launched in September 2017, is a one year supported training and employment opportunity for adults aged 17-25 with a learning disability, which takes place at our Pinderfields and Dewsbury Hospital sites.
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 adult life. The goal for each student is competitive employment somewhere in the community using the skills they have acquired at our hospital.
Our trainees are matched to their placements in terms of skills, abilities and interests, and this differs for each student. All of our 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.
Our 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. Our trainees have classroom-based learning on topics such as employability skills, social skills and health and safety in the hospital.
Project SEARCH operates over an academic year. Interns begin on the Project in September, and continue on the programme until the following July.
When interns first begin on the Project they complete an induction for the first two weeks, where they do all the mandatory training required by the hospital, and learn how to work professionally, to our Trust standards, and how to work safely.
Each term they undertake a new “rotation” or work placement. Each rotation begins with 1:1 support from a member of the Project SEARCH team, but ultimately the intern will be working on the job independently. There will be a mentor in their placement, who interns can go to with any questions or concerns. We aim for our mentors to be the best people at the jobs, so that the interns have excellent role models. During the placement, interns have continual feedback on their performance, to help them develop and work towards individual goals. Each placement builds on the skills developed in the previous role, to help our interns move towards paid employment.
Our job coaches and tutor, who specialise in supporting people with learning disabilities in employment, will coach interns into their placements, teaching them the skills they will need.
Alongside their rotations, interns have two sessions in our Base Room each day where they complete an employability skills curriculum. This includes things such as:
• employer’s expectations
• health and safety
• tackling problems at work
• completing CVs
• interview practice
As the year continues, sessions in the base room shift focus towards job searching. Interns can find a job at any stage during their year on Project SEARCH.
Whenever an intern finds paid work, they are supported to learn the role, with any problems, and to complete training, by a member of our partner, HFT’s, supported employment team. HFT continue to work with employed graduates on a follow-on basis for as long as they are in work.
Please note: Jobs are not guaranteed on Project SEARCH. All interns who find paid employment have done so through showing a good work ethic, determination and hard work.
To participate in the programme, applicants must:
- be aged between 16-24 and have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place
- be able to commit to a 5 day a week programme.