Norse & Project Search

Job opportunities for students with learning difficulties higher in Norfolk

NORSE Project Search-3520 JW & TF

Norfolk students with learning difficulties are more likely to find employment opportunities than in other parts of the country, thanks to a project supported by a number of local organisations. Nationally the employment rate for people with learning difficulties is only around 6%, but in Norfolk the conversion rate for those joining the scheme to finding jobs is 56%, a real encouragement for employment prospects in the county.

‘Project Search’, an Office for Disability Issues initiative, encourages local employers to help students with learning difficulties make the transition from education to the work environment. Students are placed with local employers for a year, working in three different areas of the organisation for four months in each role. During this time they also continue with education aimed at developing their work skills, under programmes specifically designed by education establishments in partnership with the employers. These formal classroom sessions are held on the employer’s premises,“in this way they become totally immersed in the workplace environment and culture,” commented Andrew Plunkett, Field Manager for Project Search at employment services provider Remploy.

Since Project Search was first introduced into Norfolk, in 2008, 98 students have successfully completed work placements, with 55 finding employment opportunities. There are four local organisations in Norfolk who offer Project Search placements, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital (through NNUH directly and employer partner Serco) Norse Commercial Services, James Paget University Hospital in Great Yarmouth and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn. “We’d love to have other employers to come forward to work with us to get jobs for these students,” Andrew Plunkett said. “We’ve got some really keen and able young people who, with the right help and motivation, can make a real contribution to local employers.”

The students come from local education establishments, City College Norwich, Great Yarmouth College and the College of West Anglia, who also continue their involvement by delivering the workplace-based classroom learning.

Any local employer interested in finding out more about Project Search and placement opportunities should contact Andrew Plunkett on 07903 738750 or email him at