What is Project SEARCH?
Project SEARCH is a one year transition programme which provides employability training and education for individuals with disabilities. The goal is to provide on-site internship experiences in order for young adults to acquire necessary skills leading to competitive employment.
The programme occurs on-site at a business which has the commitment to support people with learning disabilities and/or Autism in the workplace. The University of Strathclyde hosts a programme specifically for people on the spectrum. Each individual applies to the programme and is accepted through a selection process.
Project SEARCH is based on a partnership that includes a host business, a training organisation (usually a college) and a supported employment provider. The University of Strathclyde partners are City of Glasgow College, Glasgow City Council Supported Employment Service and Autism Network Scotland. Applications for this Autism specific course should be made through the City of Glasgow College website. For further details on how to apply contact the Project Search Lecturer Siobhan Martin or Job Coach Helen McGillivray.
A key element of Project SEARCH is total immersion in a large business. Each day students report to the host business, learn employability skills in the classroom and job skills while participating in 3 internships/experiences during the year. Students also participate in regular progress meetings to define their career goal and plan necessary steps to achieve that goal. Family involvement is encouraged to ensure that the intern receives as much support as possible to become an independent, work ready adult.
Managers in the business also support the students by working with the Project SEARCH Lecturer and Job Coach. Students get continual feedback from managers, co-workers and Project SEARCH staff. Students end their day by reflection, problem solving, planning and recording their key learning. The ultimate goal upon programme completion is competitive employment utilising the skills learned on the internships and throughout the programme.
Benefits of Project SEARCH
There are many benefits of participating in Project SEARCH. Students can acquire competitive, transferable and marketable job skills as well as gain increased independence, confidence, and self-esteem. The host business gains a diverse workforce who serve as a role model for customers which is well-reflected in satisfaction surveys. Project SEARCH also impacts on performance as retention in some high-turnover or hard-to-fill posts increases dramatically. Educators and supported employment agencies gain a seamless approach to transition that develops critical adult skills. They are also able to create partnership between education, adult employment services and councils in order to ensure a whole life approach to supporting young people in transition.
Project SEARCH in Scotland
Our own Project SEARCH is based in the Graham Hills Building at the University of Strathclyde, where Siobhan Martin is our Lecturer and Helen McGillivray is our Job Coach, tasked with assisting the interns through the course.
The course will last for one year from August until June. During the course interns will complete 3 rotations for 10 weeks.. During rotations interns will be given a buddy to help them settle in and a supervisor to support them with any problems that might arise. The Job Coach and Lecturer are based on site for on going support and to assist with any issues that may arise throughout the progamme.
Classroom work will involve such tasks as practising interview techniques, editing CVs, phone/email practice and completing job applications. The aim is for interns to gain new employability skills and be fully-prepared for full-time employment by the Project’s conclusion.
As of 2016 there are 13 Project SEARCH sites across the whole of Scotland. Glasgow’s two Project SEARCH sites continue to deliver and develop successful courses at the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Royal Infirmary (NHS). A key to the continued success of the project is the vital and invaluable engagement of local employers within the Employers Network. These employers provide opportunities for Interns to gain knowledge and experience relating to the world of employment, such as mock interviews, shadowing job roles and hands on experiences.
You can read more about Project SEARCH implementation in the UK on the Office for Disability Issues website.
Project SEARCH Strathclyde Newsletters
Each month the Project SEARCH interns, along with Siobhan and Helen, create a newsletter describing their various activities during the previous month. The newsletters published to date are available here.
How to Apply
To take part in Project SEARCH at the University of Strathclyde, applications are made through the City of Glasgow College website.
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