University of Aberdeen: DFN Project SEARCH celebrates annual graduation ceremony

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

The event celebrated the achievements of the eighth cohort of interns who graduated from the DFN Project SEARCH programme – a collaborative project which provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to young people with learning disabilities and/or autistic spectrum conditions who want to go on to find paid employment.

George Boyne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, who presented the interns with their graduation certificates, said: “For everyone at the University, working with colleagues and interns on the DFN Project SEARCH initiative is a truly inspirational experience.

“The interns are excellent role models for young people who are seeking to develop their independence and watching their progress this year has been extremely rewarding as they look to embark upon fulfilling careers.

“I know that our dedicated team and the young graduates will ensure that Project SEARCH continues to shine as a beacon of good practice and successful collaboration far beyond those of us who had the privilege of attending this year’s graduation ceremony.”

Neil Cowie, Principal representing North East Scotland College where interns are registered students, said: “North East Scotland College is privileged to be involved in Project SEARCH at the University of Aberdeen and to play an important part in the development of this fantastic group of young people.

“I know from talking to employers that these interns have made a significant contribution in their placements and I am confident they will take that same enthusiasm and energy into the world of work. I wish them every success in their futures.”

The ceremony also included contributions from the Co-Chairs of Values Into Action Scotland (VIAS), which holds the licence to operate the DFN Project SEARCH programme in Aberdeen.

Chief Executive Norma Curran said: “Everyone at VIAS is hugely proud of the achievements of this year’s interns. We are excited to see their next steps and wish them all well for a bright future. We are grateful to our partners at DFN Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen for making all of this possible for this inspirational group of young people.”

One of the highlights of the event was the premiere of a video collage, entitled ‘The Project SEARCH Year’ which was made by the Interns to showcase their progress and achievements during the programme.

In closing the ceremony, Annie Still delivered a heartfelt vote of thanks to all members of the team on behalf of the graduating interns.

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