A PIONEERING scheme which helps students with learning difficulties find work has won a coveted award.

Project SEARCH Bradford has been honoured by its national organisation.

The organisation, based at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, helps students develop their skills by finding them work experience and through classroom teaching.

Last year it achieved a 66.7 per cent success rate, with six out of nine interns going on to secure employment after completing the programme.

The hospital foundation trust head of equality and diversity, Lorraine Cameron, said: “I am incredibly proud of the project and our students.

“In our first year, 40 per cent of interns gained a job.

“That was good, but it wasn’t good enough because we want everyone to be successful in getting a job at the end of our programme.

“It’s great to see the business community supporting our interns and helping them gain employment.

“This award demonstrates the progress we have made during our second year.”

Among employers backing the initiative is Puddle Digital, based in Keighley Road, Cowling.

It provides work placements and is a member of the project’s business advisory committee.

Founder and managing director, Steven Burles, was part of the delegation which received the accolade at the national Project SEARCH conference in Bath.

“I am delighted that Project SEARCH Bradford has won this award,” he said.

“From speaking to other groups from across the UK, it does seem that Bradford is leading the way in terms of innovation and making year-on-year progress with their students.

“I feel that in the months to come, many more groups will be communicating with the Bradford team and using it as a benchmark for the future.”

The third intake of Project SEARCH interns will graduate on Tuesday (July 12) in a ceremony at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Sovereign Lecture Theatre.

Next year, Bradford University – a partner in the scheme – will host the national conference.

Joanne Marshall, director of human resources and organisational development at the university, said: “We are extremely proud to have worked in partnership with the Project SEARCH team over the past 18 months, which has resulted in the creation of a number of placements and jobs for interns within the university.

“This award is a credit to all those involved from the different organisations.”