Project SEARCH is an employability programme based at Bath and North East Somerset Council, which helps young adults with learning disabilities gain the skills they need to become employed. It is a unique programme of work based experience, originating from Cincinnati, which sees a Business (in our case the Council) team up with an Educator (Bath College) and Supported Employment provider (Virgin Care) to run the programme. It provides a mixture of structured work placements and classroom learning and it all happens in the work place. The aim is paid employment (with any business) for young people with disabilities or learning difficulties at the end of their year long programme.
Instead of work experience placements there are 3 Internship Rotations each lasting 10 weeks with intensive learning of skills facilitated by Supported Employment. The ultimate goal upon the one year programme completion is that the interns can gain employment using the skills learned on the internships. Project SEARCH represents a new approach to developing sustainable employment opportunities by working within a large corporate environment to deliver on site learning and support. A big employer hosts the programme by providing a training base room on-site.
A room in the Guildhall has been turned into a specially created training room for the interns to receive tailored tuition, coaching and discuss their experiences of work. A dedicated tutor from Bath College and Supported Employment Job Coach from Virgin Care are based in the training room with the interns.
The Business Liaison role within the council helps make Project SEARCH a success.
The council has joined a successful and rapidly growing international network that is changing the approach and the world of work for young people with disabilities. Employer membership includes Hospitals and Governmental organisations, Banks and multinational companies.
Project Search as an agent of change:
- Cultural change – attitudes, expectations and aspirations
- Skills improvement – in management practice - re coaching team members and experienced long serving staff develop expand mentoring skills
- Improves wellbeing and job satisfaction within the teams who host an intern
- Diversity - Contributes significantly and visibly by developing a diverse workforce better representing the local community we serve
- Helps us tap parts of the talent pool that we have the most difficulty accessing
- A tool for innovative workforce and career development
Project SEARCH brief description
- One academic year programme
- 8-10 interns per academic year with a desire to work
- Classroom and work rotations hosted by the council
- Focus and committment is on graduating with a paid job
See 'How does it all work' for more detail.