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Job Opportunities for students with learning difficulties higher in Norse

Project Search Graduation 2015

Norfolk students with learning difficulties are more likely to find employment opportunities than in other parts of the country, thanks to a project supported by a number of local organisations.

‘Project Search’, is a global project which started in the USA, encourages local employers to help students with learning difficulties make the transition from education to the work environment.

Nationally the employment rate for people with learning difficulties is only around 6%, but in Norse the conversion rate for those joining the scheme to finding jobs is last year was almost 70%, a real encouragement for employment prospects in the county.

Norse is unusual in that it is the only commercial company who run the project.

Students come to Norse for a year, working in three different areas of the organisation for a term in each role.

During this time they also continue with education aimed at developing their work skills, under programmes specifically designed by City College Norwich in partnership with Norse.

These formal classroom sessions are held on Norse’s premises, in a dedicated classroom “in this way they become totally immersed in the workplace environment and culture,” commented Andrew Plunkett, Field Manager for Project Search at employment services provider Remploy.

Since Project Search was first started in Norse in 2009, 60 students have successfully completed work placements, with almost three quarters of those finding employment opportunities.

The students come from City College Norwich and have not had any previous employment. The project is a partnership between City College Norwich, Remploy and Norse.

In 2012 and 2014 Norse won an award for getting more than 70% of their students into employment.

George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council receiving the award for 2014, along with Daniel Wells, ex Project Search student. Dan is now employed as a Passenger Assistant in our Transport Division.

Norse Group Human Resources Director, Tricia Fuller, is an early and enthusiastic supporter of Project Search, says the initiative can completely change the lives of its students.

“At one AGM an ex-Project Search student with Asperger’s talked to the company about the barriers that learning difficulties present to getting a job, a truly remarkable achievement given his background.”

24-year-old Carl Nicholls stepped up onto the stage in front of 140 managers and stakeholders attending the Meeting and talked about what he had previously studied at college, and how he desperately wanted to get a job.

“He spoke openly about his learning disabilities, the barriers these presented to finding employment, and how his time on Project Search helped prepare him,” Fuller commented. “He told how his time on Project Search helped him to develop confidence to talk to people, and ultimately was the key to getting a job. His self-assurance was inspiring and moving for everyone there.”

One of the first students taken on by Norse under Project Search, Carl was offered full time employment in an administrative role within the Transport Division of the company in July 2010 and continues in this role today.

Any local employer interested in finding out more about Project Search and placement opportunities should contact Marie Green on 01603 894351 or


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