Students with an autistic spectrum condition are pioneering a new internship programme at one of the region’s biggest companies.
The seven young people from Lighthouse School in Cookridge are working as interns on a year-long placement at Yorkshire Water.
It is the first time the water supplier has offered dedicated internships to students with learning difficulties.
The scheme is being organised by Yorkshire Water’s parent company, Kelda Group, and Lighthouse Futures Trust in Leeds, a charity which creates employment opportunities for young people with autism and works with students from Lighthouse School, Leeds City College and other schools in the city.
Katie Parlett, founder of Lighthouse Futures Trust and Lighthouse School, said: “Many young adults on the autistic spectrum have hidden talents that aren’t used because employers just don’t know how to tap into them.
“We hope this programme will recognise, value and utilise the talents our young people have and its success will help us to expand and work with other companies in the future to give more young adults these opportunities.”
The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) is providing a free minibus and driver for the interns to transport them to and from their places of work for the length of the project.
Statistics show that in 2015-16, only six per cent of adults (aged from 18 to 64 years old) with learning disabilities in England were in paid employment.
It is hoped that the placements at Yorkshire Water will give the interns, who will complete a BTEC qualification, a far greater chance of securing paid employment in the future.