What We Do

The Project SEARCH Transition-to-Work Programme is a unique, business-led, one-year employment preparation programme that takes place entirely at the workplace. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. The programme culminates in individualised job development.

Critical Success Factors

  1. The outcome of the programme is integrated employment for each participant. 
    1. 60% to 100 % of each graduating class has achieved competitive employment.
    2. Employment occurs in integrated work settings.
    3. Employees are directly employed by a business and earn the prevailing wage for a given job.
    4. Employees work in non-seasonal jobs at least 16 hours per week with the goal of full time employment.
    5. Employees generally work the same schedule and hours as colleagues in similar posts.
    6. Internships and paid jobs involve complex and systematic work.
  2. Collaboration:  Project SEARCH is a partnership with support and resources from Education, the Local Authority, the Department of Work and Pensions, a Supported Employment Provider, the host business, and family members.
    1. Roles and responsibilities of steering committee members are clearly defined and agreed upon by the team.
    2. Steering committee members meet on a regular basis to drive and monitor progress. Meetings should be at least monthly during the planning phase and the first year of programme implementation. Partners should meet at least quarterly after the second year.
    3. The steering committee has a strategic plan for continuous improvement.  Goals, dates and person responsible are specified.
  3. The programme is business led.
    1. The business participates in the programme without subsidy.
    2. There is a strong business liaison involved in crucial decisions such as intern selection, internship site development, active internal marketing of the programme throughout the business and assistance with and promotion of internal recruitment of qualified candidates.
    3. The programme is based in a large, high quality business with a minimum of 200 employees,  offering a variety of internships.
    4. The business provides an on-site training room for the interns and workspace for the instructor and job coach(es).
  4. The partners provide dedicated, consistent staffing on-site at the host business during the academic year and as needed by graduates and the host business during holidays.
    1. The on-site programme team and key representatives of each partner organisation have received orientation and training on Project SEARCH.
    2. The programme uses material from the Project SEARCH Resource Guide.
    3. The instructor and job coaches have received training and use their skills and experience in job coaching, systematic instruction, job analysis and task analysis.
    4. The instructor is full time and remains on site all day.
  5. The programme focus is on serving young adults with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions who can benefit from intensive, personalised support in preparing for and finding work. 
    1. At least 75% of each class falls in this category.
    2. We recommend that young adult is defined as ages 16–25 and the age range should support cohesiveness of the group.
  6. Pooled funding is in place among the non-business partners.
    1. Funding is a reallocation of existing resources.
    2. Funding is sustainable.
    3. After start-up, the programme operates without the need for grant funding.
    4. Class size is sufficient to create cost-effective resource allocation for all partners.
  7. There is total immersion of interns at the host business.
    1. Interns are on site at the business each day (minimum of six hours) for an entire academic year.
    2. Interns train in real work settings.
      • The programme teaches competitive, marketable, transferable skills.
      • Interns are not doing the work of volunteers.
      • Interns participate in the internships 20 to 25 hours per week.
      • Additional skills are added as more basic skills are mastered so that the interns acquire full job description skill sets.
    3. Employment planning meetings are held at least twice per internship to discuss progress on skill development with interns, instructor, job coach/job developer, family members, social worker and other appropriate team members.
      • The instructor leads the meetings in the first term. The intern leads the meetings by mid-year.
    4. Interns and on-site staff abide by the host business’s policies and procedures.
  8. A designated partner representative enters the following programme data into the Project SEARCH database in October and May and at the start of each internship rotation and whenever employment occurs:
    • Education, supported employment, host business and other key partner contact information
    • Number of interns who began the programme
    • Number of interns who completed three internships and/or gained employment
    • Number of interns who gained competitive employment within 10 months of graduation
    • Descriptions of jobs
    • Wages earned and hours worked per week
    • Benefits received from employer (e.g. discounts, pension)
  9. A majority of Project SEARCH interns achieve eligibility for long-term follow-on services before the programme begins or early in their Project SEARCH year.
    1. Project SEARCH graduates receive long-term follow-along services to retain employment.
    2. Long-term follow-along services that occur at the host business are provided by a single Supported Employment Provider/Person.  Ideally that agency should be the same one that provides job coaching/job development during the Project SEARCH year.
    3. Eligibility for ongoing job development is made for graduates who do not get a job within 10 months of graduation from Project SEARCH.
  10. The programme site has a current licensing agreement signed with Project SEARCH Cincinnati through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
    1. All required licensing fees have been paid to CCHMC’s Project SEARCH programme. An annual licensing renewal fee will be paid starting in the second year of programme operation and every year thereafter.
  11. Getting a job is more important than completing the Project SEARCH year.
    1. The model is sufficiently flexible to allow interns to leave the programme at any time during the academic year when a suitable job opportunity arises.