Forth Valley College helps additional support needs students get a head start on their careers

A group of young people with additional support needs have graduated from a one-year internship programme at Forth Valley College (FVC) aimed at helping them move into sustainable employment.
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Project SEARCH, made possible by the David Forbes Nixon charitable foundation, is a partnership between FVC, Falkirk Council Employment and Training

Unit, Serco, NHS Forth Valley and Skills Development Scotland which supports young people with learning difficulties to gain skills and experience they need to find a job.

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At total of eight interns – Owen Welsh, Stuart MacMillan, Lauren McAllister, Jaydan Gilchrist, Craig Dillon, Sarah Taylor, Thomas Chalmers and Cameron Lee –

Forth Valley College marks the graduation of this year's Project SEARCH internsForth Valley College marks the graduation of this year's Project SEARCH interns
Forth Valley College marks the graduation of this year's Project SEARCH interns

graduated from the course, which took place at FVC’s Falkirk Campus between August 2021 and June 2022.

Placements throughout the college have seen interns work with the Estates Department, in college catering and the Construction Department and they have also completed a selection of industry standard certificates through Serco.

The programme helps interns to learn real job skills that will prepare them for work by rotating them through a variety of different work placement experiences. This,

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practical, work-based learning is supported by classroom activities each day, as well as regular discussion and feedback from supervisors throughout the programme.

Recent graduate intern Thomas Chalmers said: “Project SEARCH is good for getting more skills and qualities and getting work ready. It builds up your confidence.”

Sarah Taylor, who also graduated, added; “My experience at Project SEARCH helped me understand the working environment and helped me get the skills I needed to start work. I am so thankful to get that experience and really enjoyed it.”

Jacqueline McArthur, director of curriculum for the Department of Business and Communities, said: “Once again we are delighted to see this fourth cohort of Project

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SEARCH interns complete their year at Forth Valley College and graduate from the programme into paid sustainable jobs.

"This initiative really is bearing fruit and helping so many young adults with learning disabilities into the world of work. They have all worked very hard and been a credit

to themselves, the college, and all the partners who are represented in this programme, and we wish them well as they progress into employment armed with skills and

experience gained from Project SEARCH. They should be very proud of themselves.

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“And that’s what Project SEARCH is all about – making a positive impact on young people’s lives and helping them achieve their full potential to express themselves in

a work based setting. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in the success of Project SEARCH and for driving it forward."

Elaine Bell, Associate Director of HR, NHS Forth Valley, added: “It’s great to work with our partners Serco to offer young people an opportunity to gain valuable skills

and experience in a wide range of healthcare roles at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

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“Our Project Search interns also make a valuable contribution to local healthcare and receive really positive feedback from local staff, patients and visitors.”

Anyone wishing to find out more on the course, which starts again in August 2023, should contact FVC on (01324) 403000.