© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Ready to Work Inclusion Program employment outreach specialist Dave Hobden and employment co-ordinator Megan Howland stand in the doorway of their downtown office, in the Prince Albert Multicultural Council building.
Only a few months in, the Ready to Work Inclusion Program has already put two people with employment barriers into paid positions.
A receptive business community and a keen batch of people striving beyond their employment barriers have been key to their early success, employment outreach specialist Dave Hobden said of the federally funded program.
Prince Albert was one of only four cities across Canada chosen to take on the initiative, which began in September.
‚ÄúWe have a particular need for employees ‚Ä¶ but another reason is that I think P.A. has a long history of being receptive to this kind of program,‚ÄĚ Hobden said of the city‚Äôs inclusion, noting that their early success has proven these sentiments true.
‚ÄúThere are a lot of people who are currently not working, who are trained and qualified for those positions.‚ÄĚ
With about 700 job postings currently listed online for the Prince Albert area, Hobden notes, ‚ÄúThe employers are looking for staff members, and we‚Äôre making sure they‚Äôre a good fit.‚ÄĚ
The Ready to Work Inclusion Program includes a financial incentive for employers to take on employees with disabilities, be they intellectual, physical, mental health or addictions-based.
By providing a wage subsidy of up to 100 per cent, employers are more willing to take on employees with disabilities -- a hopefully positive experience that will encourage them to continue doing so in the future.
‚ÄúIt takes a lot of that fear away of hiring someone with a disability,‚ÄĚ employment co-ordinator Megan Howland said of the financial incentive.
Employers typically worry that people with disabilities will take longer than others to train, ‚Äúbut really, we‚Äôre paying their first three months at 100 per cent, so it‚Äôs really not costing them extra to train this employee,‚ÄĚ Howland said.
We have a particular need for employees ‚Ä¶ but another reason is that I think P.A. has a long history of being receptive to this kind of program Dave Hobden
Prospective employees are accepted by the Ready to Work Inclusion Program when they are ‚Äúready to work,‚ÄĚ Hobden said -- albeit, perhaps not 100 per cent ready.
Before they‚Äôre linked with an employer they‚Äôre put through a six-week employment readiness program covering basics such as communication skills.
Then, prospective employees are linked up with a job that best fits their training and skillset.
‚ÄúThe majority of people have been extremely receptive,‚ÄĚ Hobden said of employers.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a win-win! If you‚Äôve got your entire employee costs paid for ‚Ä¶ it‚Äôs a huge opportunity to take advantage of that -- particularly when they‚Äôre trained and qualified for that job.‚ÄĚ
With two people already in paid positions, the Ready to Work Inclusion Program has another 15 in the wings, with two more to begin work on Jan. 6.
By the end of the program in March 2015, they plan on putting 32 people into paid positions.
The program operates through an office at the Prince Albert Multicultural Council building off of Central Avenue, downtown.
For more on the Ready to Work Inclusion Program, contact either Hobden or Howland at 922-0408.
The program is an effort of the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and work and is funded in part by the Government of Canada.