Supporting Youth with Disabilities as they Transition to Employment
More than half of young Canadians with disabilities are unemployed.1
While many young people living with disabilities want to work, they can experience several barriers to securing employment, which include having no opportunities to gain the on-the-job training and experience they need to be hired.
This is where Project SEARCH can help. Project SEARCH is a school-to-work transition program that supports young people with disabilities as they navigate the challenging transition from school to employment. With the support of our community partners, March of Dimes Canada launched Project SEARCH this past September, as a pilot program in the city of Greater Sudbury.
The program is designed to address the significant employment gap that exists for young people with disabilities. Participants in the program gain valuable on-the-job training and experience, while also receiving classroom instruction to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to succeed in the workplace.
By providing participants with the support and resources they need, Project SEARCH aims to increase the employment rates for people with disabilities and improve their financial security and independence.
The program is open to young people with disabilities who meet the eligibility criteria, which includes being between the ages of 18 and 30 and having a desire to work.
How it works: Building community collaboration
Project SEARCH is a partnership between March of Dimes Canada, schools, community organizations and local businesses. March of Dimes Canada partners with a local employer to provide an invaluable opportunity for participants to gain hand-on work experience and training.
Each participant is placed with a primary local employer, who plays a crucial role in the program by offering three internships. By participating in this program, employers can positively impact the lives of young people while contributing to the development of a skilled workforce. Afterwards, if the intern isn’t hired by this employer, then a job developer from March of Dimes Canada supports them in their job search.
Project SEARCH offers many benefits to participants and to local businesses that partner with the program.
Benefits to participants include:
- On-the-job training and experience: There is an opportunity to gain work experience in a variety of settings, which can help participants build their skills and confidence and prepare them for competitive employment.
- Classroom instruction: Participants learn from experienced leaders in a variety of areas, including job readiness skills, workplace safety, and disability awareness.
- A supportive environment: Every participant is supported by a team of professionals dedicated to helping them succeed. Job coaches, teachers, and community partners work together to provide a supportive and inclusive environment.
- Pathways to employment: The long-term goal of the program is to help each participant secure competitive employment, and the program provides a variety of pathways to help them achieve this goal. This includes job shadowing, internships, and other employment opportunities.
Benefits to local businesses
- By providing businesses with the education and tools they need to build an inclusive workforce culture, Project SEARCH helps to create a more diverse and skilled workforce within the local community.
- Employees see the talents and capabilities of individuals with disabilities firsthand, which can help to dispel myths and misconceptions about their abilities. This can lead to more disability-confident recruitment and retention practices, which can ultimately benefit the bottom line of businesses.
- Many placements through the Project SEARCH program are so successful that students stay on as permanent employees after completing the program. This not only provides businesses with skilled and committed employees but also provides the participants with long-term employment opportunities and financial security.
Overall, Project SEARCH is a win-win for both participants and local businesses. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society where everyone can succeed.
Read about one of our successful participants and how Project SEARCH has made a real difference in their lives and benefitted Health Sciences North. View Devan’s journey.
For more information, contact Jennifer Way at 705-561-0761 or email@example.com.
Thank you to the support of our partners in Sudbury’s Project SEARCH pilot:
The Rainbow District Public School Board
Health Sciences North
City of Greater Sudbury
1 “Building Confidence: Attitudinal Barriers and Employment for Youth with Disabilities, A research report by and for young Canadians with disabilities”, Disability Foundation. National Research Finds Over Half of Young Canadians with Disabilities Are Unemployed – Disability Foundation