Government pilots internships for people with learning difficulties

A pilot scheme offering internships to those with learning difficulties to help them find employment has been launched by the government today.

Project Search provides a series of internships with employers, allowing interns to gain valuable social skills which will help them secure work.

The project has initially been launched in Leicester and Norwich, with Leicester College, Leicester City Council and Norfolk and Norwich hospital offering internships.

Jonathan Shaw, minister for disabled people, said: “We realise that only a small number of people with learning disabilities who receive adult social services are in work, and we know that many more want real jobs.

“Project Search is a great opportunity to provide valuable internships, and the real possibility of a job, for people with learning disabilities. This is a vital programme to help people overcome barriers to work.”

Project Search is based on a US model which succeeded in getting 80% of students who completed the programme in 2006-07 into full-time employment.

Under the American model, up to 40% of the interns were offered permanent work with the employer initially offering the internship.

The interns taking part in Project Search will be unpaid, but will be able to continue receiving government benefits while on the programme.

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