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Flintshire adults with learning disabilities graduate from employment scheme

The Leader: Graduates from ClwydAlyn housing association employment programme

A group of young adults with learning disabilities have successfully graduated from an employability scheme in Flintshire.

The scheme works with students with learning disabilities and/or autism putting them into public, private and voluntary sectors in supported employment internships during their last year of education.

The programme aims to help them make positive transitions from education to the world of work.

Gemma Shone, Organisational Development Strategic Lead at ClwydAlyn, said: “Creating an inclusive workplace where each and every person feels valued, comfortable and safe to be who they are is at the heart of ClwydAlyn.”

The one year national programme, called DFN Project SEARCH, acts as a transition to an employment programme that invites students with learning disabilities and autism to form relationships with employers.

The programme runs in Flintshire in partnership with the housing association ClwydAlyn Flintshire, Flintshire Council and the charity HFT.

ClwydAlyn has run three Project SEARCH programmes since the partnership was formed in 2019 and has supported nine young people into employment during the last three years, which is a 75% success rate.

Councillor Ian Roberts was present at the ceremony and presented students with their graduation certificates.

The Flintshire Council leader and cabinet member for education and youth, said: “Everyone deserves to have the same opportunities – earning a wage, living independently and developing friendships.

“Project SEARCH provides skills and practical experience for young people to be ready to work.”

READ MORE: Flint ‘Second Chance’ project helps adults with learning disabilities

Nationally, over 1,800 young people with learning disabilities and autism have now graduated with over 1,600 interns securing full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK.

In the UK, on average, only 5.1% of adults with learning disabilities and autism are in paid employment, however, through this programme, 70% of students secure paid roles.

Claire Cookson, DFN Project SEARCH CEO, said: “ Everyone who has completed the programme has tremendous talent to offer as new employees.

“I’d encourage employers to invest in that talent, because I can guarantee they won’t be disappointed with the results.”