As employment service providers, it is hard not to be optimistic about the coming year. There’s a lot of dialogue around poverty reduction, and the Provincial government has already made steps towards increasing household incomes for lower income community members. Over the past few years, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has increased Income Assistance levels, and has heard the residents of the province in terms of transportation subsidy for Persons’ with Disabilities (PWD), reinstating the BC Bus Pass program and providing extra resources to individuals each month in the form of the new transportation supplement. As well, in the past few years the ministry has increased the annual earnings allowable for PWD, bringing me to my next thought: Customized Employment Services. Customized Employment Services encompass a suite of career assessment, skill development, job carving and marketing services, targeted specifically to assist our community members with varied abilities to find and maintain rewarding and meaningful employment. The positive spinoff is evident. Job seekers are securing suitable, supported, rewarding and meaningful employment, and employers are provided with well screened, motivated and reliable employees.
Persons’ with disabilities can get a general overview to the guiding principles of Customized Employment Services on www.employmentforall.ca . A summary of these principles:
- Choice and Control: Employment support is guided by the job seeker to achieve his/her career aspirations – that is, employment services are not prescribed, but tailored to the unique strengths, wants and needs of the individual.
- Paid Employment: The job seeker receives the same rate of pay and benefits as other employees doing the same job. Individuals with competitive positions receive their pay cheques directly from the employer, the same as their coworkers.
- Partnership: Job Seekers, employers and direct service providers determine the individualized strategies for providing support that will assist in career enhancement and ultimately facilitate long term satisfaction for the job seeker and the employer.
- Full inclusion: Individuals are socially and economically included in the community.
- Job Search: Timely and appropriate support is provided to achieve successful employment.
- Individualized: Skills, strengths and barriers are explored at the outset of the program through an intensive Discovery process. As a result of this process positions and employee duties are negotiated to meet the unique/specific needs of the employer and skills of the job seeker, one person at a time. The industry term is ‘job carving’ and it can mean changing a shift from four hours to two hours to accommodate physical needs, or removing duties and adding more appropriate tasks, etc.
- Natural Supports: Employment supports are as unobtrusive as possible and (may) fade over time by building natural supports and social capital.
- Long-term support: Is available to all stakeholders (employer and employee) to ensure people maintain employment stability and achieve career enhancement.
- Continuous quality improvement: Stakeholders are involved in the evaluation of services and Service providers are provided with feedback to implement improvements.
Most importantly for the job seeker, Customized Employment Services include a Discovery process, where persons with disabilities are assisted to identify skills, strengths, and interests, enabling support workers and seekers to target suitable employment opportunities, rather than just assisting participants to apply to fill open jobs. As you can imagine, the process of placing job seekers into positions that are unique and carved to suit the individual leads to increased productivity, job retention and job satisfaction for the employee.
Through Customized Employment services, employers cite that they are hiring individuals who fill specific company needs, have a desire to work and do well, and excel in their positions. Workers are provided with ongoing support in the form of skill development and job coaching, and as a result become proficient and confident in their roles lessening the time investment employers need to spend with staff training.
If you or a family member with a disability are interested in further exploring Customized Employment Services, please contact your local WorkBC office.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” –Jimmy Dean