Creating Life-Changing Opportunity

Nationally only 5.9% of people with special educational needs and disabilities gain permanent paid employment in the UK. Despite legislation setting the pace for creating more opportunity for people with disabilities, these worrying statistics show that so much more needs to be done if we are to bridge the employment gap and bring equality of opportunity for all.

At the DFN Foundation, we believe that now is the time for a new enabling vision that will seize the agenda and drive tangible and sustainable change. We are focused on creating lasting change in employability training and sharing best practices to ensure we can achieve fair employment outcomes for young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism.

Aims of the DFN Foundation

  • Striving to provide innovative skills-based training that better prepares learners with additional learning needs and disabilities for the workplace whilst opening the door to a wide variety of employment opportunities.
  • Increasing convenient and quick access to internships and apprenticeships for young people with learning disabilities and autism, giving them a gateway into the workplace.
  • Promoting greater employer engagement and eliminating the employment gap by challenging and positively influencing current practices to provide disabled youth with their full entitlement to effective employability training.

How the DFN Foundation Plans to Achieve its Ambitions

  • Sharing evidenced based research to influence best practices that helps young people with learning disabilities in paid employment to thrive and sustain their place in a professional environment.
  • Engaging a partner organisation to develop and implement a proposal which will deliver innovative employability skills strategies that support students with special needs into work.
  • Lobbying and positively influencing central and local governments, DWP, employers and other voluntary organisations to target their efforts and resources to support programmes which meet our ambitions for change.

Setting Goals High With DFN Project SEARCH

We believe that every young person has an equal right to aspire to the very best future, something that is often denied to people with learning disabilities. The DFN Foundation is committed to making a difference and delivering transformative change that will bring equality of opportunity for all. We are already enabling our vision through our collaboration with DFN Project SEARCH.

Project Search was established at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996 to help young people with learning disabilities get a job, today the US programme is the biggest of its kind in the world. After researching best practice from throughout the globe, we believed that Project SEARCH was an amazingly effective programme and became its partner when we secured the master franchise agreement for DFN Project SEARCH in 2018.

Transforming Lives of Young People with Learning Disabilities

DFN Project SEARCH programmes throughout the country are creating life changing opportunities, offering young people a one-year transition to work programme in their final year of school or college to enable inclusion and empowerment.

Evidenced-based and outcome driven, the programme is a proven way of helping people with learning disabilities get long term careers as well as helping businesses get a more inclusive workforce. Today it is running over 60 UK schemes and has supported more than 1000 young people into work.

DFN Project Search now has a target of getting 20,000 young people into work during the next decade, which will be transformative for them, their families, communities and business.

Success Demonstrated by Numbers With DFN Project SEARCH

DFN Project SEARCH is evidenced-based, outcome-driven and is focused on continuous improvement as it forges ahead with its ambition to transform the lives of young people with learning disabilities.

On average, over 60 per cent of graduates secure a full-time job, which is transformative for them and their families, whilst also helping UK business deliver a more inclusive workforce. Our focus has been life-changing for students with learning disabilities and inspired thousands more who are looking at what we have achieved as something exceptionally inspiring.

Driving Positive Change With the Centre for Social Justice

The DFN Foundation has commissioned pioneering research with the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). The CSJ was established as an independent think-tank in 2004 to put social justice at the heart of British politics and make policy recommendations to tackle the root causes of poverty. The recent paper Rethink Disability at Work explores barriers for individuals with learning disabilities and developing a more progressive approach to employability training for young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism.