Project SEARCH Supported Internship at Princess of Wales off to a flying start

Back in September 2018, Bridgend College launched a partnered internship programme at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, alongside national organisations DFN Project SEARCH, Engage to Change and Elite Supported Employment Agency.

Project SEARCH Supported Internship aims to deliver a full-time programme that supports a cohort of learners with additional learning needs (ALN) to get a taste of full-time employment. The programme is based within the premises of a host employer with interns undertaking three work placements across the year. Each placement rotation lasts for 10-12 weeks and interns are fully supported by a college tutor and qualified job coaches.

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. 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. As a result, the interns taking part in the project gain valuable work experience and thrive in a setting which is often challenging and demanding.

The project aims to support interns into paid opportunities, either with the host employer or within the open labour market.

Since its launch by Eluned Morgan AM nearly a year ago, one of the interns, Rhys Harris, has been offered a full-time paid employment position in the pharmacy department at the hospital.

“We are absolutely delighted for Rhys” said Simon Pirotte, Principal and CEO at Bridgend College.

“This partnership has been nothing short of incredible and to hear that Rhys will now go on to work in a fast paced and vibrant department just demonstrates how important the internship programme is”.

“They are an absolute credit to Bridgend College and the community, we are so proud of them.”

Before the group of learners started at Princess of Wales Hospital as interns, they were considered to be furthest away from the labour market. This project has completely transformed their prospects and ambitions and has enabled them to gain real-life exposure and experience of 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 led to 228 paid jobs of 16 hours per week or more.

Take a look at what our interns and their colleagues had to say about the programme and how it has helped them to be all that they can be.