Searching for a job can be a frustrating experience for a person living with an intellectual or physical disability.
A new program is hoping to ease that frustration for job-seekers while educating employers about the benefits of employing a person with a disability.
Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) was officially launched last summer with a mandate of enhancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The national initiative is sponsored by the Canadian Association for Community Living, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance and partner organizations in 20 communities across the country and receives funding from the Government of Canada.
Brian Rochat, a Labour Market Facilitator with Community Living Manitoba, says the primary focus of Ready, Willing & Able is to engage employers, analyze their employment needs and determine where there might be job opportunities.
Working with local partner agencies, including Epic Opportunities, RWA representatives help identify individuals with the skill sets and interests that match an employer’s needs. Those individuals will then join other candidates as part of a competitive interview process.
Rochat says what sets RWA apart from other similar programs is that rather than simply place an individual with a company, it tries to find the right person for the right job, from both an employee and employer perspective.
“The idea is we believe, like most employers, that there is the right job out there for everyone,” he says.
“What we do is work with employers who are committed to the principle of real work for real pay. What we don’t do is place people for work experience.”
While the ultimate goal of the program is to find jobs for people, Rochat says RWA is also focused on promoting inclusion in the workplace and educating employers about the skills and abilities people with disabilities can bring to their business.
Rochat says studies have shown that employers tend to experience higher retention rates with employees with some form of disability. That can ultimately mean lower replacement costs and higher profits for the employer, he says.
Employees with disabilities also tend to