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New University interns are part of global project

9 January 2018

Project SEARCH interns
Project SEARCH interns

Cardiff University has given internships to another 11 young people with disabilities as part of a major international project.

The young people are gaining valuable employment skills at the University as part of Project SEARCH, a global initiative that started in the United States.

They are based at University schools and departments such as the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, Communications & Marketing, Human Resources and Estates over 30 weeks during 2017/18.

All 11 are Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC) students who are being supported by CAVC and ELITE Supported Employment Agency (ELITE SEA).

The scheme is funded in Wales by the wider Engage to Change project, which works with employers to help young people with learning disabilities and/or autism to develop employment skills through work placements and support into paid employment.

Luke Evans, 21, from Cardiff, is learning about administration with the Communications & Marketing team at the University.

He said: “I love the different things I get to do and I’ve always wanted to be in an office environment. I’ve learned how to use Excel, how to do spreadsheets, and I do the post as well. I feel like I can get on with my work properly and I get on with everyone.”

Jade Smith, 20, also from Cardiff, is working as a domestic assistant at University Hall and is following in the footsteps of her sister Grace, who was part of Project SEARCH in 2016/17.

She said: “I enjoy it. I’m learning new skills, I see customers and most of them are very friendly. My sister Grace was on Project SEARCH last year and she told me about it. She said you get to try new things and do different jobs. I asked if I could be put forward for it.”

Jade Smith Project SEARCH intern
Jade Smith Project SEARCH intern

The students, who have conditions such as learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder, follow in the footsteps of 11 young people who completed successful internships at the University in 2016/17.

Many of the interns went on to secure paid employment, including several who are working at the University.

Shane Halton, 19, who found work at the University’s School of Chemistry, said: “Project SEARCH helped me get a job with Cardiff University and also gave me the experience of what a job would be like. I work in the School of Chemistry as a Technical Assistant, working in the chemistry stores and doing other jobs when needed. I'm really enjoying this job and also enjoyed having the chance to be a part of Project SEARCH.”

Andrew Horley, 23, found work at the Simply Fresh food store on the CAVC campus.
He said: “I’ve been enjoying it a lot, I love my work. I like working on the till and serving customers and doing stock. Project SEARCH helped me to apply for a job and gave me experience.”

Cardiff University was the first employer in Wales and only the third university in the UK to take part in Project SEARCH, which seeks to improve employability and education for individuals with disabilities.

Learning Disability Wales was awarded £10m by the Big Lottery Fund to lead a consortium of organisations to deliver Engage to Change. The Getting Ahead 2 grant was developed in partnership with Welsh Government to meet priorities for supporting children and young people.