1,000 young people with a learning disability and/or autism to gain employment from new £10m five year project

Learning Disability Wales has been awarded a £10m grant to boost the employment prospects of young people in Wales with a learning disability and / or learning difficulty, including autism.

The five-year Engage to Change project, starting in April 2016, will work with 800 employers across Wales to help 1,000 young people with learning disability and/or autism to develop their employment skills through paid work placements lasting between 6-12 months.

Learning Disability Wales are leading a consortium of organisations to deliver Engage to Change project. These include supported employment agencies ELITE and Agoriad, the international internship programme Project SEARCH, self advocacy organisation All Wales People First, and Cardiff University.

The project is being funded by The Big Lottery Fund's Getting Ahead 2 grant - the largest ever awarded by the organisation in Wales. The grant was developed in partnership with Welsh Government to meet priorities for supporting children and young people. It will be funded by money that has been dormant in bank and building society accounts across the UK for 15 years or more.

Youth unemployment in Wales is an issue for all young people but those young people with a learning disability and/or autism, the routes into employment and the support that is available isn't always clear. The project will allow us to draw from previous good practice and clearly demonstrate what works for these young people.

Welcoming the funding, Zoe Richards, Young Person and Carer's Manager at Learning Disability Wales, said: "Learning Disability Wales are delighted to be leading a project that will change the way young people with a learning disability / difficulty including Autistic spectrum disorder contribute to the workforce in Wales.

"This programme will enable us to evidence that a person centred, tailored employment support programme produces long lasting employment results for the young people we represent. We want to ensure these young people are visible in the workforce of Wales, and will act as role models for our next generation of young people."