An innovative partnership is helping to change the lives of young people with learning disabilities in London.
DFN Project SEARCH is working with Marriott Hotels to transform the employment prospects of young people with learning disabilities and autism.
The DFN Project SEARCH London Heathrow Marriott programme was established in September 2016 and is providing interns with a one-year transition to work programme in their final year of school or college.
Other project partners include education provider Meadow High School, the London Borough of Hillingdon and supported employment providers Prospects and EDT.
The students are based full-time at the London Heathrow Marriott Hotel and have three department rotations throughout the 12-months as they gain 800 hours of skills acquisition and study for an employability qualification.
The programme also includes an onsite teacher and full-time Job Coach employment specialist to support the students in making a successful transition from education into full-time employment.
Twenty-three students have already graduated through the programme in the past three years – 87 per cent have gone on to secure full-time employment with Marriott Hotels and across the local business community.
Eight students recently graduated from the 2018/19 programme in July this year, with six already securing full-time employment.
Job roles span linen porters, engineering technicians, chef assistants, care workers, restaurant staff, cinema hosts, airport logistics and warehouse staff.
DFN Project SEARCH aims to change lives for young people with learning disabilities by helping them get great jobs.
Its locally managed programmes are a proven way of helping young people with learning disabilities get long term careers as well as helping businesses and organisations get a more inclusive workforce.
There are now over 60 local partnerships across the UK, with over 1,000 young people with learning disabilities being given a pathway into work already. Another 12 schemes are planned by the end of 2019.
DFN Project SEARCH CEO Maura Lynch said: “Our vision is to ensure that everyone with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition can attain high-quality employment in their local area.
“The partnership with Marriott Hotels is meeting this objective, bringing students competitive and transferable job skills, and the ability to achieve meaningful employment, which is truly life-changing.
“Marriott Hotels and businesses throughout the wider community are also experiencing the transformative benefits from engaging in our programme, gaining access to a new, diverse, talented workforce with skills that match labour needs.”
She added: “The recent graduation shows that the partnership has gone from strength to strength during the past three years and we will continue to work closely with all of our project partners and the wider business community to ensure that young people in the area with learning disabilities are given the opportunity to get a good job.”
Linda Hawkins, Director of HR at London Heathrow Marriott Hotel said: “The graduation event is a celebration of all the hard work the interns have put into the year at the hotel.
“It has been a true honour to be a part of DFN Project SEARCH over the last three years. The interns are all impressive, independent, job worthy individuals who have made a difference in our lives and the culture at the hotel, and I hope we have made in a difference in their lives.
“To see all the hard work and effort put in by all the interns, and to see them achieve their goals makes it all worthwhile.”