Young people with additional learning needs scoop a year long internship opportunity with a major Bridgend employer

Eluned Morgan AM praises Bridgend College for unique partnership with major Bridgend employer

On Thursday 13 September 2018, Bridgend College launched an innovative partnership which has enabled 9 young people with additional learning needs (ALN) and disabilities to secure a supported internship based at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.

Welsh Government Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan AM was in attendance to see the partnership between Bridgend College, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Elite Supported Employment Agency begin its year long programme.

The group of learners, who are now interns at AMBU, were considered to be furthest away from the labour market. This new partnership now sees the 9 learners progress into an immersive intense internship, enabling them to gain real-life exposure and experience to the workplace. The model utilises the DFN Project Search methodology, founded in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and since its inception, has grown to include 56 Project Search sites, which have lead to 228 paid jobs of 16 hours per week or more.

Interns start their day within a classroom base in the hospital for an hour-long session facilitated by a Bridgend College tutor and a Job coach provided by ELITE Supported Employment Agency. Following this, interns move straight into their working day within a range of departments across the hospital. Departments providing work placements for them include Estates, Pharmacy, Patient Records, Pathology, Sterilisation and Catering Services. Each day concludes with the interns returning to their classroom base to evaluate and reflect on their learning and to review their personalised targets. Interns follow a standard working day, five days a week and follow standard host business policies and procedures to ensure that real-life working practices and expectations are emulated.

The tutor and job coach remain on-site throughout the day to ensure interns and departments are supported and are able to be responsive to any developmental needs highlighted. The project aims to support interns into paid opportunities either with the host employer or within the open labour market. To date, DFN Project Search.

The project forms part of the wider ‘Engage to Change’ programme, led by Learning Disability Wales and funded by the Big Lottery Fund with match funding from Welsh Government.

Simon Pirotte, CEO and Principal of Bridgend College said ‘We are thrilled that this partnership provides real opportunities for our young people with additional learning needs and disabilities to gain valuable exposure and work experience, providing excellent opportunities for them to transition into paid employment and adulthood.’

‘The new Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal Act (Wales) sets out ambitious and a long-overdue commitment to delivering 0-25 ALN transformation across Wales. We are committed to providing learning opportunities which enable young people to gain meaningful paid employment and make a positive contribution to their community and wider society.’

Tracy Myhill, CEO of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said “This is an exciting project that is being delivered with people right at the heart of it”. “It’s important as an employer that we have a diverse workforce to represent the health board as we deliver services to our patients and communities.”

Welsh Government Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong learning Eluned Morgan AM said “It’s so pleasing to see this innovative project turned around so quickly and effectively. The fantastic work Bridgend College do, particularly in the Bridgend area, is outstanding and is leading in Wales”.

Bradley Davies, intern at ABMU said “This opportunity is going to be the step I need to get in to full time employment.”

The staff at Princess of Wales hospital have been so supportive. Over the last three years I have been a student at Bridgend College – they have helped me thrive and given me the confidence to be here today”.