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  • Professional Intermediation  for People with Disabilities

Project objectives and expected results


The employment rate of people with disabilities (around 80 million EU citizens, ranging from mild to severe disabilities) remains very low, 48.7%, revealing the lack of equal opportunities in the labor market and the need to develop their work situation through quality jobs in open environments, inclusive and accessible work environments (EU, 2017). It is necessary to pay special attention to young adults with disabilities in their transition from education to employment (European Commission, 2010), as they face other different additional barriers with regard to their employability and professional development.


On the other hand, the establishment of Law no. 4/2019 which defines the employment quota system for people with disabilities with a degree of disability equal to or greater than 60% leads to companies having a transitional period of four years for compliance with the required quota.


This share is 1% for medium-sized companies (with 75 or more workers) and 2% for large companies (250 or more workers), which makes this requirement a challenge in itself.


The general objective of this project is to allow more young adults with disabilities, preferably aged 18-29 years, to earn their living in the open labor market, improving the quality and relevance of the transition to school for work in Portugal .


Project approach chosen to achieve successful results


The professional insertion of people with disabilities must be an individualized process and built step by step according to the strengths, interests and skills of the young person with disabilities. However, it seems to us that there are certain common steps to be taken in order for this process to be successful. Taking into account the areas of job opportunities that exist within each company and according to our experience and knowledge we have about the methodologies of transition to the active life of young adults with disabilities with scientific evidence, we have developed the following structure of approach to the professional insertion process of people with disabilities in business terms.


 Principles considered in the design of this Pilot Project


Design a model of good consensual practices, responding to the needs identified in the path of the young person with disabilities and all the main players in the ecosystem that influence them.


Address the specific needs of the long-term young person, school, university, employment and life in general.


Actively involve all stakeholders in the ecosystem in the design of the pilot project, including young people with disabilities.


Complement and associate large institutions.


Design the pilot project with the aim of being able to replicate and scale significantly beyond the pilot.


Design the pilot project to allow the acquisition of learning.

Design the pilot project to allow the tracking and measurement of input, output and outcome metrics.


This Project will use the principles of a tried and tested methodology - Project SEARCH®. The experience of international partners in strategies that have a good result in the development of job opportunities for people with disabilities, will allow sharing resources, using continuous quality improvement and loyalty to the intervention model in order to achieve the intended objectives.




This step concerns the candidate referral process. This process is extremely important because it aims not only to promote the access of people with disabilities to this project, but above all, to make the candidate / company, that is, that the candidate to be included in the project will satisfy the real need for company recruitment.


To achieve this objective, two types of referencing are considered in this project: Internal referencing and external referencing.


In relation to internal referencing, it will come from the company, which will welcome expressions of interest from family members of workers and / or others, through its own channels and forward them to Focus via email.


Regarding external referencing, it concerns the direct promotion that Focus will do, developing a set of partnerships with various entities in the territories of coverage, so that they disseminate and promote the participation of young adults with disabilities in the project. 


Interested applicants will complete a specific application form which will include, in addition to the candidate's identification data, information on the degree and type of disability, clinical and family information, which they will send directly to Focus.




After receiving the application form, either through internal referral or external referencing, Focus will make a first screening of applications, which may involve a telephone contact, based on the information presented and correspondence with the participation requirements, that are:


Preferably age between 18 and 35 years.

Motivation to work

Basic communication skills

Ability to follow instructions


After screening, the selected candidates will be invited to participate in a recruitment “interview” conducted by Focus, lasting one day, where in addition to making contact with the candidate, their socialization, work and development potential. 

The result of the evaluation will lead to the classification of candidates at three levels:



Level ICandidates who obtained a low majority score (1) on the items to be evaluated, which may indicate a low level of functionality. They are people who need a more comprehensive program of intervention and the promotion of several basic skills before they make contact with the labor market or enter Project SEARCH®. 


Level IICandidates who obtained a majority score between II and III in the items to be evaluated. 


Level III: Candidates who obtained a majority score of IV in the items to be evaluated. They are trainees with higher functionality, who need short training to enter the job market satisfactorily. They are the target candidates of the project.


Note: The selection process for candidates is carried out  and entirely responsible by Focus.





According to the profile evidenced by the candidates at the selection stage, they will initially be directed to one of the following types of training:


Initial training: which corresponds to Level I of classification. This program includes routines that are divided into three learning phases. Routines are activities that take place with a predictable sequence of steps and with predictable expectations for the participation and autonomous performance of the candidates. These routines cover school and community settings.


Intermediate training: which corresponds to Level II of the framework. This level of qualification corresponds to training at Project SEARCH® (nine months). Applicants will integrate the database of eligible candidates for an edition of Project SEARCH® to be held.

Advanced trainingwhich corresponds to Level III of the framework. This level of qualification corresponds to a short training (three months) following Project SEARCH® principles. 



The training program described above has an integrated system for assessing individual performance. Objectives, procedures and results are continuously measured and represented graphically according to the curriculum models and instruments and extensively validated in different school programs and systems. The validity of the interventions will also be measured by quantitative surveys of parents and guardians and by a company team.


In the case of the advanced program, at the end of the classroom training, if the trainees do not show the profile indicated for joining the company, they will not advance to practical training in the workplace, and may be integrated into another level of training.


At the end of the training program mentioned, the trainees, if they demonstrate the necessary employability skills, will proceed to the next stage, the stage of introducing the candidate to the company. If they do not show this necessary preparation, they may be included, according to the evaluation carried out, in another training program available in the project, which is more appropriate to the necessary development of their skills.




This step consists of introducing candidates who have demonstrated a level of consolidated employability skills to the company. From the result of this presentation, three different situations may arise: the recruitment by the company, the resubmission of the candidate for new training in the project, if the company considers that the necessary recruitment conditions have not yet been met, or the professional insertion in another company if the company considers that the candidate's profile does not fit with their recruitment requirements.





For candidates recruited by the company, a specific welcoming and monitoring plan in the workplace will be developed, which will include initial and continuous on-job training for tutors who will monitor the candidates' professional path within the company.

Thus, in terms of monitoring, we propose two distinct phases: the candidate's integration phase and the retention phase.

The integration phase aims to provide an efficient integration and subsequent retention of the new employee at the location / service selected by the company. It is intended to minimize a series of potentially "stressful" circumstances for both the new employee and the company. 

The retention phase starts after the first month of employment at the company and aims to promote the retention of new workers and resolve / support the resolution of all issues that may arise in the workplace, in real time at the company. 

Result Indicators


The following indicators for monitoring the results to be achieved are proposed:




To be defined



% Employees * (Enrolled)

66,67 %

% Employees * (Completed)



Note: % of employees assume the use of the Competitive Employment Concept used by Focus. For Focus, Competitive Employment is the most important result that is considered successful. We use a strict definition of competitive employment: at least 16 hours of work per week, which pays the established salary, on a regular basis, in an integrated environment (i.e., with workers with and without disabilities).