Job hunt starts for first Project Search interns

The moment of truth is getting closer for eight young Canterbury people with learning disabilities, who are learning skills designed to land them jobs.

The interns are part of Project SEARCH, hosted by Canterbury District Health Board. They are spending the year at Burwood Hospital learning about the work environment in a classroom setting, while doing real work at the same time throughout the hospital.

The interns have just started their third ‘rotation’. Each rotation gives them an opportunity to try something new. The work can include setting up clinics at the start of the day, delivering linen, assisting orderlies, helping out in food services and helping the maintenance and engineering teams. As the end of the year gets closer, approaches are now being made to employers to give these young people a job.

The Canterbury DHB scheme is the first in Australasia, although there are more than 600 programmes operating mainly in the United States and Europe. Project SEARCH is open to students between the ages of 18 and 21, who are in their last year of school and qualify for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding. Selection is now under way for interns to participate in 2020.

The IHC Foundation is contributing $128,250 towards Project Search, which is paying for the programme coordinator. CCS Disability Action is driving the project and Riccarton High School is the managing school.

The Project SEARCH goals are to find each intern at least 16 hours’ employment a week for a year after completing the programme, to encourage other employers to run their own Project SEARCH programmes and to break down barriers for young people with disabilities who want to enter the workforce.

“At the Canterbury DHB, we believe our workforce should reflect the communities we serve – and one in four New Zealanders have disabilities,” says Michael Frampton, Chief People Officer for the DHB. “We’re committed to building and supporting a diverse workforce that accepts people for who they are and celebrates their differences.”

See the interview with Michael in the latest Education Gazette: Tukutuku Kōrero: