Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Muller, E., & VanGilder, R. (2014). The relationship between participation in Project SEARCH and job readiness and employment for young adults with disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 40 (1), 15-26.
Title:  The relationship between participation in Project SEARCH and job readiness and employment for young adults with disabilities
Authors:  Muller, E., & VanGilder, R.
Year:  2014
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Quasi-experimental

Structured abstract:

Background:  Young adults with disabilities face an uphill battle when trying to secure competitive, paid, permanent employment after completion of school. Project SEARCH is the current most effective way to transition individuals with disabilities into work. Participants rotate through a series of internships and on the job training with the support of a job coach. Evidence on its efficiency remains limited however.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to determine whether participation in project SEARCH is related to better employment outcomes and higher overall job readiness.
Setting:  Participants completed internships in the Washington D.C. metro region.
Study sample:  Ten young adults with disabilities aged 17-24. Six were male and four were female. Disabilities included a learning disability (n=1), cognitive impairment (n=5), and autism (n=4). All had received high school certificates of completion and none were employed at the time of the study.
Intervention:  Participants were a part of Project SEARCH. The project is a 10 month internships that consists of three 10 week rotations at different job sites. Job coaches provided training and support to each participant as needed.
Control or comparison condition:  Employment outcomes and job readiness skills were the comparison conditions.
Data collection and analysis:  Job readiness skills were measured through a Job Readiness Assessment Tool (JRAT). Project SEARCH classroom instructors, job coaches, and internship site supervisors all completed the JRAT for each intern. The JRAT was completed at the beginning of the 10 month program by only the classroom instructors and job coaches. At the end of each job site rotation the instructors, job coaches, and site supervisors completed the JRAT. Differences in baseline JRAT scores and end of rotation JRAT scores were compared. Qualitative data was examined to look for major emerging themes.
Findings:  Participants demonstrated significant job skill growth as a whole, particularly in entry-level job skills and workplace behavior. Six out of 10 participants were offered permanent jobs within three months of the program’s end. End JRAT scores were higher for participants that were offered jobs than in those that were not.
Conclusions:  This study confirms the effectiveness of Project SEARCH in increasing job skills and improving employment outcomes in young adults with disabilities.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Cognitive / intellectual impairment
Learning disabilities
Populations served:  Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Interventions:  Supported employment
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition