A delegation from the University of Aberdeen were among the guests at a Universities Scotland event held at the Scottish Parliament this week, which aimed to highlight the higher education sector's contribution to economic transformation across Scotland.
The event featured case studies from each Scottish university including Project SEARCH, a transition to employability programme that has been running at the University since 2013 and which is helping transform the lives of young people with learning disabilities and autism in the north-east, by providing vital workplace skills that help them find paid employment.
Heather Crabb, who leads the University’s contribution to the Project SEARCH, said that it has a strong track record in helping young people find a job.
“This year, we are delighted to be celebrating our 10th anniversary. 68% of graduates are now in employment in the north-east of Scotland – nearly 10 times above the average employment rate for those with a learning disability who do not enter any type of post-school programme.
“Upon completion of the programme, graduates have gained over 800 hours of work experience in a variety of fields and are ready to enter the workplace as confident individuals, willing and eager to make a valuable contribution.”
Project SEARCH graduate Owen Griffin, who is now a full time Grounds Person at the University, said the results of his involvement have been transformative.
“Project SEARCH prepared me for work by teaching me how to behave in employment, work as part of a team and improved my general attitude towards work.
“Before Project SEARCH, I was shy and hesitant but it gave me the confidence to introduce myself and to learn new skills – I now have the confidence to express myself and to go for it."