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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee
Department of Workforce Development
201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2023
CONTACT: DWD Communications
Collaborative Program Prepares Young Adults with Disabilities for Rewarding Careers
MARSHFIELD – After learning about Project SEARCH from her teacher and the program instructor, Sierra Braxton started to get excited about the prospect of entering the program and the many options it would provide her to achieve the skills she needed to go out into the workforce.
"I enjoyed the variety of interning options to learn and grow across the board," she said about the program. "I also loved that everyone was so welcoming to one another, and the skills trainers were very helpful in times of need and to have someone to talk to about life in general."
Braxton, along with eight other individuals with disabilities, celebrated the completion of Project SEARCH on Friday, May 19, during a graduation ceremony that drew friends and families to the Marshfield Medical Center. After graduation, Braxton plans to continue working at Pick 'N Save and pursue a college education.
"The Department of Workforce Development this year is excited to celebrate Wisconsin's nearly 200 Project SEARCH graduates, who pushed themselves to explore new opportunities, develop additional life skills, and take pride in the work they have done over the past nine months," said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. "In Wisconsin, more employers are tapping the state's diverse and talented pool of career seekers, and successful programs like Project SEARCH reaffirm that workers with disabilities can bring tremendous skills and talents to any employer's workforce."
The graduation ceremony marked the completion of a nine- to 12-month immersive work experience. The interns recounted their hands-on experiences and talked about their future career opportunities.
In addition to the host site and DWD's vocational rehabilitation division, the local internship experience was made possible by partners including Opportunity Development Center, Inclusa, Inc., Lakeland Care, Comprehensive Community Services, the Unified School District of Marshfield and school districts of Neillsville, Stratford, Pittsville, and Granton. Statewide, 28 premier employers are participating in Project SEARCH this year.
DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation oversees Project SEARCH statewide and has supported the program with funding, coordination and technical assistance. The state division also provides vocational counseling and support to program participants.
Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort among state vocational rehabilitation agencies, area schools, local employers, and long-term care organizations to help interns acquire marketable, competitive, and transferable skills that lead to employment. The interns complete multiple 10-week rotations to maximize exposure to different career paths and learn employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills within the business environment.
Started at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project SEARCH has provided workforce training to approximately 1,500 Wisconsin residents since its statewide launch in 2008. For more, visit Project SEARCH Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.