Congratulations to our 2023 Project Search graduates

Project Search Graduates

Young people with learning disabilities and autism have graduated from a highly successful Kirklees scheme that supports them into the world of work.

The DFN Project SEARCH programme is a partnership between Kirklees Council, Kirklees College and REAL Employment. The programme helps young people aged 18 to 24 make the transition from education to employment.

In Kirklees, the number of people with learning disabilities in paid employment is double the national average at around 10 per cent.

Project Search offers interns three carefully selected and managed work placements on a 12-month programme. They gain valuable work skills in the council, along with a skills curriculum package delivered by Kirklees College.

Interns explore a variety of work areas to boost their career options. Internships were offered in various departments in the council, including customer services, administration, human resources, care, catering, warehousing and working with young people.

At the end of their programme, interns were invited to a graduation event to receive certificates and celebrate their achievements with family members. Some of the interns shared their experiences with moving and inspiring speeches.

This year, 11 interns have successfully completed the programme. Over 60 per cent of the cohort have moved into employment. Those still job seeking are continuing to receive support from the council’s Real Employment service. Jobs have been gained locally in different sectors such as a full-time support worker for the council.

Cllr Paul Davies, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet member for Corporate, said:

“Project Search is a fantastic way of supporting young people with learning disabilities and autism.

“Our programme in Kirklees is widely recognised as being a national leader, as well as gaining praise at international level.

“We are always delighted to welcome interns into the council and play our part in helping them to the next phase of their journey.

“Project Search gives them skills and confidence to explore new options and reach their full potential, which is our aim for all young people across the district.”

The graduation ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Kirklees, Cllr Cahal Burke, who said:

“Each of these young people deserves enormous praise for grasping their opportunity. They have shown so much commitment to their roles with the council.

“Completing the internship is a superb personal achievement and it’s humbling that the council has made a significant contribution to their lives.

“Interns’ friends and families have also given vital support and been central in making Project Search successful once again over the last year. We send our very best wishes to all the young people.”

Do you want to get involved?

Young people who would like to take part in the programme must be aged between 18 and 24 and with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). More information can be found from the Kirklees Local Offer or by contacting C+K Careers.

Are you a business owner or manager and are interested in hosting an intern in your team? Contact Job Coach Lucy at, or Kate at