A project which provides young people with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) with the support and training necessary so that they can successfully go onto employment has launched in Cardiff.
In joint partnership between Cardiff Council, the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Project Search provides training and work experience placements to young people with additional learning needs and/or autism, with the aim of preparing and supporting them in their transition from school to full time employment.
Since its initial pilot in September 2021, the scheme has been supported by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board who, as the employment partner, has provided a range of supported work experience placements at several departments at the University Hospital Wales in Heath, including pharmacy, cellular pathology, catering, switchboard, linen, housekeeping and portering.
Pupils from Woodlands High School and Whitchurch High School in Cardiff and Ysgol Y Deri in the Vale of Glamorgan have been provided with lessons on employability skills and received support from Cardiff’s Into Work Advice Service’s specialist employment coach to access work experience placements during the full-time, one year programme.
Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry said: “Project Search has been successful in ensuring young people with additional learning needs can access good-quality work experience placements and provision to support them in finding future employment.
“It is encouraging to hear that all seven interns currently remain with the health board with two securing employment as a direct result of their involvement with the project.
“The expansion of the project relies on organisations coming forward. They are invaluable in helping to support more young people to become ambitious, capable and prepared to work whilst championing confident individuals ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of our communities.”
Cllr Rhiannon Birch, The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Arts and the Welsh Language, said: “Project Search is playing a vital role in finding individuals with Additional Learning Needs high-quality, demanding work placements that help prepare them for long-term employment, something many struggle to find.
“However, more placements are needed to satisfy the significant appetite for these types of opportunities. I would urge any employers who think they may be able to assist to come forward to help someone take an important step into the world of work.”
Nicky Punter, Workforce Resource and Inclusion Manager and Project Lead for Project Search at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “The project has been incredibly well received by both managers and Executive leads within the Health Board. The scheme has seen young people transition from school leavers, to working individuals with new skills and experience, who have grown in self-confidence and belief over the course of the last year, including two very successful interns gaining permanent employment within the NHS as a result.
We would like to thank all the managers of various departments who have hosted the interns and for their support over the last year, and for all the offers we have received for future placements when the next cohort of students arrive.
Young people are referred to the Project Search team by their school at the ages of 16-18 years.