project search graduation 2023

phs Group’s second cohort of interns with learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum conditions today graduated from their 10-month Project Search initiative, with five of eight interns gaining employment with phs.

A sixth intern is hoping to secure a work trial with another business, and two of the interns will be returning to phs Project Search programme to build on their skills in September.

Each intern on the course has battled various challenges over the past year to achieve their goal of graduating, before moving on to the next chapter in their lives.  

DFN Project Search is a partnership between a host business (phs), education provider (Bridgend College) , and professional adult supported employment provider (HFT) , who are dedicated to building a workforce of full time paid employment for those with a learning disability, autism spectrum condition or both. 

The interns have secured a range of roles, including (image left to right):  

  • Rhyannon Burt has been offered an apprenticeship Customer Service role  
  • Lucy Flanagan will return to phs in September and take part in the internship again with new placements 
  • Megan Wakely will also return to the internship later this year in a new placement 
  • Megan Hoskins has been offered a role in Credit Control  
  • Spencer Payne has been offered an Apprenticeship role in Customer Cervices  
  • Iwan Haines has been offered a role within phs’ depot as an On foot Service Technician 
  • Ieuan Marshall (not pictured) has been offered a role with Customer Engagement at phs 
  • Matthew Ball is hoping for a work trail with a well-known supermarket chain 

The group, who are all students at Bridgend College and supported by Hft, started on the scheme in September 2022.  

Megan Hoskins, 21, from Trethomas said at the event; “I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved, particularly my stint working in marketing where I managed my own project collecting food from all staff members for a local food bank. Everyone has been so supportive, and I have loved meeting new people and making new friends for life. I’m looking forward to my role in Credit Control and can’t wait to see what happens next.” 

Supported by mentors, they completed three rotations across credit control, customer services, facilities, finance, marketing, human resources, IT and learning and development. The idea was to give them the opportunity to explore a range of opportunities and develop job skills to take forward into their chosen career. For many new joiners to the DFN Project Search scheme, it will be their first foray into the working world. 

Designed as a 10-month programme, DFN Project SEARCH places interns in real-world work settings where they learn all aspects of gaining and maintaining employment. A series of three internships lasting 10-12 weeks allows interns to explore careers and develop marketable job skills. They receive support from department mentors, DFN Project SEARCH skills trainers, and worksite accommodations and adaptations. The programme offers individualised job development, which is based on the intern’s experiences, strengths, and skills. 

Julie Harries, workplace learning lead for phs said:  

“I want to congratulate this year’s interns on their completion of the scheme and wish them well in their future careers. I’m sure those staying with us at phs will continue to be an asset to the team and I hope they stay with us for a very long time. 

“I would recommend that any business take part in this scheme and create a more diverse workforce that benefits and provides independence for those individuals, as well as the business they assimilate into. We couldn’t ask for more committed and loyal colleagues than these interns, and I’m looking forward to seeing their careers bloom.” 

The families of those graduating were all present at the celebration, held at phs’ offices in Caerphilly as well as course tutors from Bridgend College and Project Search, and the head of Inclusion at Bridgend College, Greg Cavill. During his speech at the event, he mentioned the strength of the partnership between phs, Bridgend College and DFN Project Search. He said:  

“This scheme has provided everyone associated with it so much joy; the joy of working together as equals. Something special happens when the right opportunities are provided in order for us to grow and be treated with respect in all aspects of our lives. Everyone here today is invested in this initiative and that’s why it has been such a success. I firmly believe that Project Search changes lives, and the evidence is here today, in the form of these interns who will go on to full time employment on Monday.”  

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