Project SEARCH celebrates fifth annual Graduation ceremony

A project which aims to increase the number of people with learning disabilities securing employment held its fifth annual graduation ceremony at the University of Aberdeen last week.

The Project SEARCH Graduates
The Project SEARCH Graduates

The fifth cohort of interns taking part in Project SEARCH, a collaborative project between the University, North East Scotland College and Inspire, celebrated their achievements with a special ceremony.

The one-year programme sees up to 12 Project SEARCH Interns, who are all registered students with North East Scotland College, spending a month in a classroom environment before embarking on a rotation of three work placements in various roles and departments within the University.

The Aberdeen partners were initially selected to carry out the project in Session 2013/14 by the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability (SCLD) which oversees the initiative in Scotland.  The programme is supported by Skills Development Scotland and also by Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council, who have funded some of the programme’s resources.

Professor Mike Greaves hosted the ceremony and said: “It has been my honour and my privilege to have worked with the Project SEARCH team during my period of office as Senior Vice Principal at the University over the past year.  Although I have now retired, I was delighted to have been approached at the Interns’ request to return to host such a special landmark in the programme’s calendar. 2018 is Scotland’s Year of Young People, which aims to celebrate Scotland’s young people, valuing their contribution to communities and creating opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally. Our programme is a wonderful example of these values being put into practice.” 

Mr George McCulloch, Director of Operations, Inspire PTL addressed the audience on behalf of the Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen Strategic Steering Group.  He highlighted how the programme is looking forward to a new and exciting chapter through the closer involvement of senior figures from across the North East of Scotland over the coming year, including councillors, senior Council officials and NHS Grampian. George said “It is remarkable to be able to say that over the past five years we have now seen 57 young people complete the programme and 37 job outcomes as a result, alongside additional personal outcomes such as returning to further education and moving into their own accommodation.  It is particularly encouraging that 4 of our Interns who graduated today have already found work in organisations across the local area”.  

The ceremony also recognised the invaluable contributions made by supervisors across a wide range of University departments and those in external organisations who had welcomed and supported the Interns during their placements over the past year.

In closing the ceremony, Kyle Sutherland delivered a heartfelt vote of thanks to all members of the team on behalf of the graduating Interns.