Nine young people with learning disabilities who have been through a programme to help them into work have graduated.
The council teamed up with the Marriott Hotel, Hilton Hotels and grounds maintenance partner Glendale Liverpool to offer the Supported Internship placements over an academic year.
Since last September, pupils from Sandfield Park School, Bank View High School and Myerscough College worked four days a week and spent the other day in lessons to build employability skills.
All the pupils have been supported by a work coach who helps them get used to the routine expected when in employment, instructing and supporting them to build skills in the workplace to complete work tasks to a high level.
Three of the interns have now got a job, another has secured an apprenticeship, one is going back to college, another is continuing with the internship for another six months and the remainder are actively pursuing vacancies and attending interviews.
Just six percent of young people with learning disabilities are in employment, and the aim of the scheme is to help them transition from education in to the world of work, so they can live more independently and don’t become socially isolated.
Councillor Barbara Murray, Cabinet member for education, said: “This scheme is about working closely with young people, schools and employers to provide customised support into the world of work and give them the opportunity to compete for jobs and thereby fulfil their fullest potential.
“I am delighted to have been invited to the graduation to meet with the young people their families and their prospective employers.
“This scheme has been such a success and will be expanded next year to involve more businesses and more opportunities for our young people.”
Although it will take time, the eventual aim is for every young person with disabilities that wants it to be given the chance to get paid employment.
The scheme is trebling in size this September, with eight more firms signed up, including the city council.
Sarah Spoor, Learning Mentor and Inclusion Officer at Sandfield Park, said: “I can honestly say that the Supported Internship programme is the best thing I have seen in all of the years I have been working with young people with special educational needs.
“For too long there have been poor outcomes for disabled young people leaving school/college and very few are able to find paid employment – this is not only unfair but it means that so much talent and skill is not being used or developed and sadly impacts on disabled young people’s aspirations and hopes for the future.
“It is a chance to develop work skills with support from a work coach to give the young person a real chance to get meaningful and paid employment.
“I have seen all three young people grow so much in confidence and maturity and they are more independent and developing great skills.”
Helen Eaton, Assistant Principal of Myerscough College, said: “The Supported Internship programme provides the opportunity for Myerscough College to work with both young people and their supervisors.
“It’s about creating work-ready young people and removing any barriers that may be present in the workplace that could stop the employer from taking on a young person with learning difficulties. I’m so proud of the progress that’s being made.”
Becky Cooper, HR Manager for Marriott Liverpool said: “The supported Internship program is an exciting opportunity for us to work closely with our community partners to enhance the experience of young people with disabilities and equip them with the necessary skills to go on to paid employment.
“Allowing us to access a new pool of talent, the programme also provides our employees with exceptional personal development opportunities as they work with and mentor the young people.”
Sara Morrison, HR manager at the Hilton Hotel, said: “In our opinion we think it’s been a great success, seeing the girls from where they first came to look around the hotel and they seemed totally overwhelmed.
“Now, they walk in like a normal team member, they just get on with their shift. The confidence in them is just unbelievable to see how much they have grown. It’s just like seeing them blossom in our eyes, it’s so nice.”
Eirinn Carey, who has been working at the Hilton Hotel, said: “The best thing about coming to work is that you’ve got something to look forward to. This has given us experience to get a job in the future.”