Well what a year 2020 turned out to be but despite the odds, Project SEARCH continues to run at Dow Silicones UK Ltd in Barry! This has only been possible thanks to fantastic leadership support plus the creativity, agility and commitment of a brilliant Project SEARCH instructor and job coach, plus a team of 36 Dow mentors.
Let’s just take a moment to reflect on 2020 achievements and celebrate the success stories!
Project SEARCH Year 1 class of 2019/2020 successfully graduated in July 2020, CVs at the ready and motivated to enter the world of work.
- Project SEARCH Year 2 launched in September when we were delighted to welcome 9 young interns to the Barry site.
- Project SEARCH Year 2 interns successfully completed an intensive virtual 6-week induction, during which they were introduced to the world of work, to the Dow culture and had the opportunity to learn from guest speakers from other Dow sites across the globe.
- Project SEARCH Rotation 1 successfully completed virtually with interns already delivering value to their respective departments.
- Project SEARCH in Barry was awarded an Employee Resource Group Relationship grant, allowing us to invest in extra job coaching support to take the project to the next level.
- Dow was selected to receive the Business Partner of the year award by Cardiff & Vale college for our commitment to Project SEARCH. Link to award ceremony here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT_6d-5ysjM&feature=youtu.be
The 2020/2021 Project SEARCH programme does indeed deviate from the standard model given COVID 19 restrictions but here are some of the key activities that have helped to sustain the programme and maintain engagement.
- Project SEARCH interns meet with their respective mentoring teams every Monday via video call in order to prepare for the week ahead, take on tasks/projects and set goals.
- Project SEARCH interns execute tasks/projects with job coaching support throughout the week and connect back with their mentors in case further support is needed.
- Project SEARCH interns & mentoring teams meet all together every Friday via video call, during which each intern presents a summary of their week, progress against goals and identify a goal for the following week.
- Guest speakers from across the globe have met with interns each week to present themselves, their careers and an introduction to their site/business, some even setting activities relating their areas of expertise.
- Fortnightly cultural exchanges have been established with Project SEARCH interns in Plaquemine, Elizabethtown, Houston, Freeport, USA to share experiences and connect with fellow interns.
- Project SEARCH interns have facilitated ‘Learning Disability’ training to Dow employees to spread awareness, change mindsets and attitudes towards learning disabilities.
- Project SEARCH interns have held forums with their mentors, gathering feedback on what Project SEARCH means to them as mentors.
- Project SEARCH interns gathered feedback from parents/guardians on how Project SEARCH has made a difference.
- Project SEARCH Interns have been introducing themselves and Project SEARCH during department meetings, thereby gaining communication confidence and presentation skills.
- Project SEARCH interns have been leading inclusion case study discussions with their group to facilitate dialogue and encourage independent thought.
- Project SEARCH interns have been focussed on developing CVs, Cover Letters with several rounds of mock interviews lined up in the next few months.
A lot here to be proud of but most importantly, simply by making small accommodations and by being inclusive, we're helping to change the lives of young people, who are already enjoying new confidence levels and benefiting from new and transferable skills.
Thanks to everyone that has supported Project SEARCH and looking forward to sustaining the programme over many years to come.
Blog by Kim Eversham, ODMS Leader, Project SEARCH Business Liaison Dow Silicones UK Ltd