Johnny Mercer MP visits Project SEARCH

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Plymouth Moor View MP, Johnny Mercer today continued in his long-standing support for Pluss by visiting Project SEARCH at Derriford Hospital.

Offering 12 month internships for young people with a learning disability, large employers, such as Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, offer three 10 week internships in different departments within their business over an academic year.

The aim of the project is to enable young people with learning difficulties to develop the skills they need to gain paid employment. By providing on-the-job training, the learning style is much more suited to the needs of the young people, allowing them to develop and demonstrate their talents within the workplace.

The Project SEARCH model was first developed in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to support people with learning disabilities into work. Project SEARCH now runs in over 200 organisations throughout the world. In the UK, only 7% of people with learning disabilities nationally are in any form of paid work, compared with 80% of the wider population.

The end goal for each student is to achieve competitive employment either with the host employer or elsewhere in the community using the skills they have acquired.

The Pluss Project SEARCH sites have a combined job outcome rate of over 70%. In Plymouth, the Project SEARCH site is run in partnership with Pluss, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, City College Plymouth and Serco.

Today, Johnny Mercer visited a number of interns working across a wide range of departments at Derriford Hospital. He also met several of the staff who act as important mentors for the interns. Speaking afterwards he said:

“This scheme is yet another example of the excellent and innovative work Pluss do in Plymouth in partnership with other key organisations like City College and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

“Providing young people who otherwise might struggle to find paid employment with an opportunity to be trained and get work-ready, is vital. Meeting the young people involved in the scheme today highlighted the importance of the experience they gain. 

“As a city, we in Plymouth want to ensure that all of our young people have the best chance in life to succeed. Supporting schemes such as Project SEARCH is a brilliant way to achieve this. The partnership work evident in Project SEARCH is a real asset to the city. My hope is that more businesses will be able to support the scheme in due course, and more young people with learning difficulties benefit from this opportunity and end up working in a job they love.”