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Project Search interns graduate to the world of work

A group of budding jobseekers have been formally congratulated for completing a year’s internship with Hounslow Council at a special graduation ceremony.

The interns form part of Project Search, a partnership programme between Action on Disability, West Thames College and Hounslow Council that enables young people with learning disabilities to get valuable work experience. The council is the first local authority in the country to deliver the programme.

Interns completed three placements across council departments during the last 12 months. Each placement was designed to give them an insight to the world of work and help them become job ready.

Placements have included stints in human resources, reception, IT and accounts, with more than ten departments offering work experience to the enthusiastic interns.

Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “We’re delighted to be the first council in the country to deliver the Project Search programme.

“It’s something we are very proud to have supported and it’s been amazing to see how these enthusiastic young people have developed during their time with us.

“It’s not only the interns who have learned from this experience – as a council we have learned a great deal too. We have been focussing on what the young people can do rather than what they can’t do. By providing them with the support and guidance they need, they’ve each made a valuable contribution to each department they have worked in.

“As a council we are committed to equality and diversity and supporting our residents into work. This project is a tangible example of this commitment.”

The talented young people have a wide range of skills but can struggle with traditional recruitment processes, which makes it difficult for them to find work.

The Project Search team have been working with employers to give the jobseekers ‘work trials’ where they get a chance to show off their talents and abilities in a way that is accessible to them.

One employer who was happy to offer work placements to the interns was Premier Inn. The popular hotel chain, which has more than 700 branches across the UK, was one of the first employers to get involved and offer informal interviews and work trials for prospective employees.

Since taking part in Project Search, Premier Inn has taken on one of the interns, Nathan Hammond and offered five work trials to other candidates. Nathan has been employed in Premier Inn’s Bath Road (Terminal 5) branch, Hounslow, in the food and beverage department.

Nathan said: “My interview went really well. I was quite nervous but really pleased when I was invited to take a work trial, which has led to a job.

“I’m really looking forward to my new role, learning new skills and working in a team with my new colleagues.”

Rakesh Mistry, Operations Manager at Bath Road (Terminal 5) Premier Inn, said: “We are delighted to have recruited Nathan who went through the Project Search process.

“Working with Hounslow Council, we have given opportunities to some really fantastic candidates. Here at Premier Inn we are dedicated to finding the potential in everyone that goes through our recruitment process and I strongly believe Nathan can fulfil his potential with us. It’s great to have him on board.”

While the interns may have concluded their placements at the council, this doesn’t mark the end of Project Search. A new cohort of interns will start work at the council in September

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