Seven young people with learning disabilities and autism have graduated from the DFN Project SEARCH programme run in partnership with Kirklees Council and Kirklees College.

The graduates received their certificates at Cliffe House in Shepley in front of their family and managers.

Three interns also stood up to address the room and give speeches where they received huge applause, tears and chuckles.

Following the programme, Kirklees Council project that over 75% of the first cohort of interns will successfully transition into sustained employment, with four out of the seven interns already securing paid employment.

Clr Shabir Pandor, leader of Kirklees Council said: “Huge congratulations are in order for our Project SEARCH interns who graduated on Friday.

“It’s been such a pleasure to welcome the interns to the council, but we are equally excited to wish them well on the next steps in their employment journey.

“We want to give all young people in Kirklees the best start in life – that means being there for them, however and whenever they need us. Project SEARCH has given us the opportunity to welcome young people with learning disabilities and help them achieve their potential.

“It is a shining example of what individuals can achieve when they are given the space to grow, and the skills and confidence they need to achieve their ambitions.

“The project has been such a success in Kirklees that we have gained international recognition.

“I’m proud to say that we will be continuing the Project SEARCH programme which we look forward to growing in the future, and I encourage any students or businesses that have been inspired to get involved.”

Mayor of Kirklees Clr Masood Ahmed addresses the audience

Mayor of Kirklees Clr Masood Ahmed said: “It was a proud moment to hear about all the work and the collaboration that has gone into making this project happen.

“It is fantastic to know that the council as the host employer has played a part in the development of the interns and given them vital employment skills for the future.

“Many people from managers, mentors, onsite training teams as well as family members have all made this possible.

“All of the interns who graduated showed great dedication in their roles and they have grasped this opportunity and I would like to wish them all the very best in their future careers.”

Polly Harrow, assistant principal for student experience at Kirklees College, said: “I am so proud of the incredible partnership we have with Project SEARCH, who help us to provide a phenomenal programme for our brilliant students at Kirklees College.

“The team at Project SEARCH allow us to make such a difference to the lives of the students who really deserve it. Our students are graduating with confidence, support and transferable skills which will help them make the most out of their future. Well done to all the students and staff involved with Project SEARCH.”

Young people who would like to get involved must be between 18-24 with an Education Health and Care Plan. More information can be found on the Kirklees Local Offer website or by contacting C+K Careers.

Business owners or managers that are interested in hosting an intern can contact job coaches Lucy McCarthy or Kate Deakin for more information on,