With challenges filling positions and higher costs for doing business, organizations and businesses employing people with disabilities are turning social issues into business opportunities. These opportunities can translate into lower costs, higher revenues and increased profits.
Recent studies show 82 percent of workers with a disability score average or above average in performance ratings, have average to above average attendance records, and 55 percent of employers say they work harder than other employees.
Ajay Caleb from Rotary District 5050 is gradually spreading the word to Rotary clubs across B.C. to dispel myths about the capabilities of people with developmental disabilities in the workplace.
“Case in point is a North Delta accounting firm that recently hired a young man who has autism for recycling and filing duties. With job support staff provided at no cost to the employer, within weeks his hours had increased and he was given additional responsibilities. He has become a valued member of their team.”
Currently, of the close to 19,000 people with developmental disabilities living in B.C., only about 16 per cent have jobs. A recent study by Community Living BC (CLBC) showed the average work week for a person with a developmental disability is 13 hours; only seven per cent reported working 40 hours or more.
The Community Action Employment Plan, a collective effort of community agencies, government, employers and people with developmental disabilities, is a three-year strategy guiding work locally and across the province to help create more jobs across B.C. for adults with developmental disabilities.
In the central and upper Island, a pilot project is underway to test the plan locally. Successes to date include the establishment of job supports in Port Hardy and surrounding communities through North Island Community Services Society (NICSS) for the individuals CLBC serves, and activities to directly reach out to employers, including a series of employment success stories appearing in this paper in the near future.
A plan is also being created to help the North Island think strategically and proactively about how to hire more people with developmental disabilities. Barb Legg, CLBC regional employment coordinator, is inviting the local business community, Rotarians and Chamber members to join the team.
“My hope is the Port Hardy and surrounding business communities will join us so we can capitalize on energy and creativity, address unique challenges and opportunities together, and help create greater employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.”
Given that many people may not know about inclusive hiring practices, in January 2014 a new website, www.employmentforall.ca, was launched. Employers, job seekers, service providers and family members are encouraged to use the website to access user-friendly information, videos, success stories and planning tools to help inform and inspire.
Employers interested in joining the employment planning group meetings taking place in Port Hardy can contact Barb Legg at Barbara.Legg@gov.bc.ca. If you are an employer looking for employees, contact Michèle Papp, NICS, at 250-902-7220 or firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the employer form on www.employmentforall.ca.