Job skill acquisition in complex internships arranged by Project SEARCH is achieved through several internship rotations over ten months at the host business. Job placement upon graduation is assured through vigorous job development provided by Project SEARCH staff, Advisory Council members, and the host businesses. For participants not employed at graduation, job development services continue until employment is achieved. There may be times when students go into higher education instead of directly into employment and would, therefore, not be considered employed.
During the first four years of the project, only one Specialized Service Agency and school district were involved with Project SEARCH. While the employment rate was 100%, there were only a total or 2-3 student interns each year. The project expanded in FY 16 to three school districts and two additional developmental disabilities services agencies resulting in total of 20 student interns. In FY 17, an additional developmental disabilities services agency participated resulting in 22 student interns.
In FY 20, three graduates refused employment due to COVID-19 safety concerns. This caused a precipitous drop in the employment rate. There were 16 interns who graduated in FY 20 of which 9 were employed. If it had been safe for the three to accept employment, it would have raised the employment rate to 75%; lower than in recent years but still a respectable rate. The FY 21 69% rate was lower than past years due to COVID-19.