News

News

The award-winning Project SEARCH team based at the University received further recognition of the contribution they have made to supporting young people with additional learning needs into employment since 2013.

An award recognising 10 years of the partnership between Project SEARCH and the University was presented at last week’s DFN Annual European Conference in Blackpool.

Project SEARCH team receiving their award


November 2023 | Previous News

Previous News

2023
October

Project SEARCH welcomes new funding

The DFN Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen team is delighted to announce that we have secured funding for Session 2023/24 from Aberdeenshire Council and from lead corporate sponsor Shell UK Ltd. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Aberdeenshire Council and welcoming Shell UK over the coming months.

Aberdeenshire Council has played an active role in the programme since its launch 10 years ago and during this time has provided financial support, alongside valuable contributions in hosting placements, supporting Interns employed within Council offices and delivering referral and after-care services in partnership with Values Into Action Scotland, the project’s licence-holder.

Shell UK plays an active role in encouraging employability skills across the North East of Scotland, including supporting broader educational activities delivered by Project SEARCH partners, the University of Aberdeen and North East Scotland College, via energy transition scholarships, technician training and the award-winning Shell Girls in Energy programme.

You can read the full news article for further information about this exciting news


Previous News

August

DFN Project SEARCH Celebrates 10th Anniversary at the University of Aberdeen

A project based at the University of Aberdeen which aims to increase the number of people with learning disabilities securing employment celebrated its 10th anniversary at an event in the Cruickshank Botanic Garden earlier this week.

The event was attended by Project SEARCH graduates and current Interns, members of the on-site staff team (past and present) and supporters from organisations across the local area.  The event celebrated the achievements of the programme since its launch in September 2013 as a collaborative project which provides real-life work experience, combined with training in employability and independent-living skills, to young people with learning disabilities and/or autistic spectrum conditions who want to go on to find paid employment.

The event also recognised the achievements of Owen Griffin, a Project SEARCH graduate, who received a certificate of completion to recognise his transition from an apprentice in the University’s Grounds team to full-time Grounds Person.  Owen is now mentoring the team’s current apprentice, who graduated from the Project SEARCH programme in June 2022.

To mark the 10th anniversary, a DFN Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen Alumni Network has been launched.  This network will allow graduates to keep in touch with each other beyond their time on the programme, to share their progress and to arrange social events.  It will also act as a vital link between the on-site team and graduates to share information about job opportunities and to allow staff to continually improve the programme by receiving feedback and understanding how Interns’ careers and lives progress over the longer term.

Heather Crabb, who leads the University’s contribution to Project SEARCH, said “Today marks a real landmark in Project SEARCH’s history at the University of Aberdeen. Over the past 10 years our programme has made a real difference to the lives of our Interns, and their families, by giving them the support and encouragement they need to help them learn, develop and grow as individuals in both their personal and professional lives.  As we enter our second decade, we remain committed to ensuring that our young people leave us with the transferable skills, knowledge and experience which enable them to be a real asset to their employers.”

She added “We are indebted to our colleagues within the university and in local organisations who have provided our Interns with placements, training and development opportunities and other support over the past 10 years.  The success of Project SEARCH shows how much can be achieved through collaboration and partnership working”.   

July

Graduation Ceremony 2023

The annual DFN Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen Graduation Ceremony took place on Friday 7 July 2023. The event celebrated the achievements of the Interns who joined the programme in August 2022.  The ceremony was particularly special as it marked the 10th anniversary of Project SEARCH being hosted at the University.  You can read the full news article for further information about the event.

May

Alumni Network

Calling all Project SEARCH Interns who have graduated since 2013!

We are setting up an Alumni Network for Project SEARCH Interns to keep in touch, share progress and come together for social events.  We will be formally launching the Network at our birthday party in August and if you would like to join us, please email Rebekah Sutherland or send us a message via our Facebook page or LinkedIn.

January

Project SEARCH featured in the Universities Scotland campaign showcasing the contribution universities make to the Scottish economy which launched in the Scottish Parliament on 31 January 2023. 

Read our case study and learn more about the journey one of interns took from intern to full-time employee.

From Apprentice to Master – Project SEARCH Graduate Owen’s Employment Journey

From apprentice to master, Owen Griffin has moved from an intern position on the University of Aberdeen’s Project SEARCH programme to supporting others who are taking the same journey into full-time employment.

DFN Project SEARCH is a UK-wide transition to employment programme for young people with a learning disability and autism or both, which has been running at the University of Aberdeen since 2013.

Owen Griffin smiling while leaning on a University of Aberdeen grounds maintenance vehicleEach year it offers internships to up to 12 young people aged 16-24 who are supported to undertake work placements within the University and with partner organisations, covering a range of roles while studying towards the City & Guilds Certificate in Employability Skills. Upon graduation, interns receive support to enter paid employment. 

Owen (23), came to Project SEARCH directly from school and the results of his involvement have been transformative. Working in various roles, Owen built up his skills and confidence before securing a position as a full time Grounds Person at the University.

Now, Owen is acting as a mentor to another Project SEARCH graduate who has secured an apprentice Grounds Person role, helping them make the same transition to full time employment.>

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,” Owen explained.

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.

Heather Crabb, who leads the University’s contribution to Project SEARCH, said that the programme has a strong track record in helping young people into secure employment.

Owen’s story underlines the value of Project SEARCH in preparing young people for full-time employment, enabling them to understand the social complexities of the working world while developing sought after skills."

Upon completion of the programme, Owen and other Project SEARCH 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"

“So far, 68% of our 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.”

2022
October

The DFN Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen team have received national recognition for their success in supporting young people with a learning disability into employment.  The programme’s success rate was in the top 10% of all the 120 DFN Project SEARCH sites across the UK, Ireland and Iberia in Session 2020/21.

At the Annual DFN Project SEARCH Conference 2022 in Rotherham, the team was presented with 2 Outcomes Awards from David Forbes-Nixon OBE (Executive Chair of the David Forbes-Nixon Charitable Foundation/DFN Project SEARCH) and Erin Riehle & Susie Rutkowski (Senior Co-Directors, Project SEARCH USA).

The Outcome Awards showcase the programme’s success in securing jobs for more than 70% of our Interns who graduated in June 2021 and who are now in work in a variety of organisations across the North-East of Scotland.

Claire Cookson, Chief Executive Officer of the DFN Foundation/Project SEARCH, said: “At DFN Project SEARCH we believe all deserving young adults should have the opportunity to access a high-quality supported internship, and so I want to congratulate the University of Aberdeen for their remarkable work and success in supporting young adults with a learning disability into employment.”

The team are also celebrating successful outcomes for several Interns who completed the programme in June 2022 and have already started their careers in a diverse range of roles including Apprentice Groundskeeper, Catering Assistant, Customer Service Assistant and Butcher Assistant.

Interns with Outcomes Award TrophyOn-site team with Outcomes Award Trophy

Award Ceremony Presentation

September

Ross Henderson who graduated from the Project SEARCH programme in June 2021 joined the ScotRail Modern Apprenticeship programme last year.

His achievements have featured in a video which has been launched to promote apprenticeships across Scotland. Ross is currently based in Aberdeen and is ScotRail's first deaf Modern Apprentice.

The video is available here - https://www.apprenticeships.scot/apprentice-stories/ross/.

July

DFN Project SEARCH celebrates annual Graduation ceremony

A project which aims to increase the number of people with learning disabilities securing employment held its annual graduation ceremony at the University of Aberdeen last week.  The event was particularly special as it was the first ‘in-person’ ceremony that was able to take place on campus since 2019.

The ceremony celebrated the achievements of the eighth cohort of interns who graduated from the DFN Project SEARCH programme - a collaborative project which provides real-life work experience, combined with training in employability and independent-living skills, to young people with learning disabilities and/or autistic spectrum conditions who want to go on to find paid employment.

George Boyne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, who presented the Interns with their graduation certificates, said: “For everyone at the University, working with colleagues and interns on the DFN Project SEARCH initiative is a truly inspirational experience. The interns are excellent role models for young people who are seeking to develop their independence and watching their progress this year has been extremely rewarding as they look to embark upon fulfilling careers. I know that our dedicated team and the young graduates will ensure that Project SEARCH continues to shine as a beacon of good practice and successful collaboration far beyond those of us who had the privilege of attending this year's graduation ceremony.”

Neil Cowie, Principal, who represented North East Scotland College (where Interns are registered students), said: “North East Scotland College is privileged to be involved in Project SEARCH at the University of Aberdeen and to play an important part in the development of this fantastic group of young people.  I know from talking to employers that these interns have made a significant contribution in their placements and I am confident they will take that same enthusiasm and energy into the world of work.  I wish them every success in their futures”.

The ceremony also included contributions from the Co-Chairs of Values Into Action Scotland (VIAS), which holds the licence to operate the DFN Project SEARCH programme in Aberdeen.  Norma Curran, Chief Executive, said: “Everyone at VIAS is hugely proud of the achievements of this year's interns. We are excited to see their next steps and wish them all well for a bright future. We are grateful to our partners at DFN Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen for making all of this possible for this inspirational group of young people”.

One of the highlights of the event was the premiere of a video collage, entitled “The Project SEARCH Year” which was made by the Interns to showcase their progress and achievements during the programme.

In closing the ceremony, Annie Still delivered a heartfelt vote of thanks to all members of the team on behalf of the graduating Interns.

June

Graduate Success Stories

The success of 3 of our Project SEARCH graduates featured in an article in the Press & Journal -

'I overcame my anxiety and now I have a full-time job' -  Aberdeen teenager hails programme for young adults with learning disabilities (pressandjournal.co.uk)

March

National DFN Project SEARCH Recruitment Campaign

We are proud to be supporting the national DFN Project SEARCH campaign to promote programmes like ours across the UK. To read the press release, please click here.

We are recruiting - #Thefutureisnow


Project SEARCH Session 2022/23

We are now receiving applications to join Project SEARCH in September 2022. For further information, please see our Recruitment Section.


New Programme Licence Holder

DFN Project SEARCH, a leading charity supporting young people with learning disabilities and autism to move into work, has announced that Values Into Action Scotland (VIAS) will be the new license holder for its prestigious University of Aberdeen programme.

VIAS will be providing the Job Coaching support for the programme, working alongside the education provider North East Scotland College to support interns through three term-long  rotations during their internship year.  In addition to the 1-2-1 Job Coaching to DFN Project SEARCH interns, VIAS will also work with the partners to secure employment opportunities for the interns of the programme both inside and outside of the University to meet the students’ aspirations.

Click here for further information.


DFN Project SEARCH Graduates are Frontline Heroes

Aiden Hutchison and Emma DuguidTwo former DFN Project Search interns have been working as frontline heroes since graduating from the programme.

Aiden Hutchison has been working as a Kitchen Assistant through ASA Recruitment and is pictured at Kingswood Care Home where he has been helping to prepare meals for residents, which he then delivers to their rooms, complying with current regulatory guidelines for Covid -19.

Emma Duguid is a Domestic Assistant for Aberdeenshire Council at Bennachie View Care Home. Emma has been performing a crucial role – cleaning and deep cleaning residents’ rooms, corridors, windows and all the touch surfaces in the home.

Aiden and Emma have both had to adapt to the new ways of working including wearing PPE – they really are our very own frontline heroes.

DFN Project | SEARCH logo

Awards

2022

At the Annual DFN Project SEARCH Conference 2022 in Rotherham, the team was presented with 2 Outcomes Awards from David Forbes-Nixon OBE (Executive Chair of the David Forbes-Nixon Charitable Foundation/DFN Project SEARCH) and Erin Riehle & Susie Rutkowski (Senior Co-Directors, Project SEARCH USA).

The Outcome Awards showcase the programme’s success in securing jobs for more than 70% of our Interns who graduated in June 2021 and who are now in work in a variety of organisations across the North-East of Scotland.

2016

November

Gold Accreditation for Project SEARCH

The Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen team is the first organisation in the North East of Scotland to be awarded Developing Young Workforce Quality Assurance accreditation at gold level.

2015

July

Project SEARCH International Conference, Arizona, USA

The project was named as achieving the highest employment rate of all Project SEARCH sites in Europe for session 2013/14.

2014

November

Green Gown Awards 2014

The project was shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious national Green Gown Awards 2014, which recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK.


June

Project SEARCH European Conference

Project SEARCH Aberdeen was named as the foremost ‘up and coming’ new Project SEARCH site in Europe at the European Conference which took place in Glasgow in June 2014.

Project Search - group photo

Aberdeen City Council Children's and Young People's Services Awards

The project received the 'Raising Achievement' Award at the Aberdeen Children's and Young People's Services Awards in June 2014 in recognition of work to raise achievement and support integrated working within the city.

Project Search - group photo

 


May

North East Scotland College Student Achievement Awards

Five Interns were nominated to receive a Student Achievement Award through the North East Scotland College, of which two were successful. These Awards are intended to recognise students who have overcome adversity and/or who have shown outstanding innovation in their approach to their studies and work.

Project Search

Project Search

2013

December 2013

SURF Award

In December 2013, the Project SEARCH programme within Scotland (including the Aberdeen programme) won a SURF Award. SURF is Scotland’s independent regeneration network, with an overall objective to improve the health and wellbeing of residents in Scotland’s disadvantaged communities. Each year, a competition is run to highlight, celebrate and share some of the best examples of regeneration initiatives across Scotland. Project SEARCH was recognised in the Support to Work category.

Project Search