A good day is a pay day! When individuals work, they contribute to their community, making the economy and community stronger. Work also helps individuals develop new skills and strengthen self-respect, dignity, and self worth. Creating a solid foundation of employability while a student is in high school can lead to a student having a successful future. 

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR services in South Dakota are provided to individuals with disabilities to get and keep jos compatible with their skills and abilities. Any person whose disability significantly interferes with getting or keeping a job, and who needs VR services to overcome these barriers to employment may be eligible for the program. 

VR services are delivered by two separate divisions:

Transition services are best delivered in a framework where there is coordination between education and VR that actively involves the student and family and are focused on the outcome. The following transition services known as Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) can assist in preparing the student for competitive integrated employment as they transition from high school to the adult world.

Even though you have to be at least 16 years old to qualify for Project Skills work experience program, you can incorporate VR in your IEP for career planning as soon as you turn 14. Vocational Rehabilitation programs can work with students as young as 14 years old and can continue after high school until the consumer reaches his/her employment goal.

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.  Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services cover the cost of wages and additional supports while Project Skills enables employers to provide these students with valuable work experiences in a real work setting.

Why Project Skills?
  • Gain Work Skills
  • Identify Career Plans
  • Develop Work History


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, and references, and help them move into different and better jobs as they mature and are ready to take on new challenges.

Assessment and Feedback

An important aspect of supporting youth during work experiences is providing feedback on their performance and growth. The following evaluation tools can assist you in obtaining feedback on your student’s strengths and needs while at the worksite.

Work Site Evaluation Tool
Employer Survey
PCT Learning Log
PCT 4-plus-1 Questions
Project Skills Evaluation Tool

Since its inception in 1996, Project SEARCH has grown from a single program site at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to a large and continuously expanding international network of sites. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.

The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a unique one-year school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace.

Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and on-the-job training and support through worksite rotations or internships.

The program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help youths with significant disabilities make successful transitions from school to productive adult life.

Who is Project SEARCH for?
  • Students with significant disabilities who are in the last year of their educational program.
  • Students who have a desire to achieve competitive employment.
  • Students who have completed all academic requirements for graduation from high school.
  • Students who are 18-21 years old.

Students are referred to the program through their schools and/or VR counselors and apply in the winter and spring of the year prior to entering the program. The Project SEARCH teacher, VR Counselor, and provider staff carry out the selection process with input from the Project SEARCH state team.