A project backed by Norse to help young people with learning difficulties into work is celebrating another successful year, with course leader Michele Claxton describing the ‘Class of 2019’ as the best yet.

The cohort of eight – all young men aged between 18 and 25 – are now hoping to break into the jobs market, having worked with Norse in a variety of settings during the year such as school kitchens, parks and gardens, the warehouse and in printing.

People with learning difficulties suffer from very high levels of unemployment (with just six per cent in work nationally), but those who join Project Search, which is led locally by City College Norwich and supported by companies such as Holiday Inn, Konectbus as well as Norse, that rises to around 60%.

Course leader, Michele Claxton, pictured above far left, said she would be running a summer job action group to help the students enter the world of paid work.

She said:

“All the lads have been an absolutely fantastic bunch and in terms of interaction, enthusiasm and a general willingness to get stuck in, I’d say they are the best set we have ever had.

We have already had a number of ‘near misses’ in terms of job offers where they have been pipped at the post by candidates with more job experience, but it will come. We won’t let them lose the momentum they have built up since they started in September and going for a job interview is an important life skill in itself.”

Jodie Will, Executive Assistant to Norse Group’s Human Resources Director, pictured far right, added:

“It’s very rewarding to see the change in each student from their start in September through the year. Our students make the most of the opportunities given to them, and by their graduation in summer, they have gained confidence in themselves, independence and essential soft skills alongside very valuable work experience.

Our mentors from catering, grounds maintenance, HR administration and various other services provide essential support to enable the young people to find meaningful employment and give them drive to build for a successful future.”

The cohort completed its last day with Norse on Friday (July 4) with a friendly game of bowling and some pizza, a great way to round off a year of success, having attended a graduation ceremony at Norse’s Fifers Lane headquarters earlier in the week.

Nine more young people will be joining the next Project Search course in September – the 10th year running Norse has been able to support the project.