We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Best Practice Award – Careers Programme in a Special School or College category in the UK Career Development Awards.  The Awards from the Career Development Institute raise awareness and celebrate the tremendous success of those in the career development profession.

Our submission was for Project SEARCH, a unique one year supported training and employment internship opportunity.  It helps young people – from across Derbyshire with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and autism spectrum conditions – make successful transitions from school to productive adult life and gain the skills they need to achieve meaningful paid jobs.

Before interns start the programme they take part in lots of preparation work to identify their strengths, aspirations and the occupations they are interested in.  They have the opportunity to gain new skills, as well as practical work-based experience through a structured personalised careers programme.  They are supported throughout by an employer mentor, tutor and job coach.

Clare Talati, Managing Director said, “It is great for us to be shortlisted for this award and help raise awareness of this unique programme and the benefits of creating inclusive work environments.  We would like to thank all the partners involved for their dedication and commitment.”

Disabled young adults are significantly underrepresented in the nation’s workforce and are far less likely to secure employment than the general population.  Only 3.5 per cent of young adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in Derby are in paid work (around 6% nationally).  There are 69 Project SEARCH schemes internationally and 60 per cent of the young adults involved have secured employment.

Sarah Cutler, Project SEARCH Job Coach said: “We want to ensure that all learners, irrespective of their needs, achieve.  This programme challenges stereotypes and perceptions and allows employers to see what the young people can contribute and offer. And it allows the young people to realise their potential to contribute to the workplace and be exceptional employees.”