Project Skills is a paid work experience program for high school students with disabilities. The program is a cooperative arrangement between the state vocational rehabilitation agencies and the local school districts.
Project Skills provides students the opportunity to learn different skills in a variety of job placements, with the assistance of a job coach.
Project Skills will help to build the student’s work history, references, and help them move into different and better jobs as they mature and are ready to take on new challenges.
Many times, students with disabilities don’t get an opportunity to gain paid work experience while in high school. Although willing, most employers cannot afford to provide the training and supports students frequently require on their first job. By covering the cost of wages and additional supports, Project Skills enables employers to provide these students with valuable work experiences in a real work setting.
First, the student completes a survey to identify jobs of high interest. Next, a school representative contacts employers to locate possible jobs that match the student’s interest areas. Once an appropriate work experience site is located, the employer, student, vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor and school representative sign a Work Experience Agreement. The work experience can last from a minimum of 50 to a maximum of 250 hours, but students cannot work over 40 hours per week. During this time, students are paid minimum wage. Generally, students can participate in only one Project Skills experience per academic year, but they can participate in additional years.
In order to participate in Project Skills, students must:
The Division of Rehabilitation Services provides funding for wages, FICA, worker’s compensation, and other costs. VR can also pay for other items needed for employment, such as uniforms, based on the individual student’s needs.
The local school district provides matching funds for Project Skills through providing job development, job coaching and on-site monitoring. These services can be provided directly by the school district or may be purchased from another agency, such as an education cooperative, adjustment training center, career learning center, or other agency approved by Vocational Rehabilitation.
Worker’s Compensation is covered by the Division of Rehabilitation Services. There is no financial obligation of benefits or wages by the employer.
Notice the match form report has been revised. Please note there are now two different forms with Assurance of Match Report A being for BIA schools and Assurance of Match Report B being for cooperatives, public schools and agencies. Also note that there is now a line for Cooperatives and School Districts on the forms and that these lines should be filled out accordingly.
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