A young man who dreamed of driving a big truck is now saving for his own vehicle after finding work through a new Williams Lake Association for Community Living (WLACL) job developer.
His story is only one example of the success WLACL is having putting people with developmental disabilities to work since hiring job developer Linda Rowley. Efforts to increase employment in the Thompson-Cariboo are part of a pilot through Community Living British Columbia (CLBC)’s Community Action Employment Plan (CAEP).
Guided by the CAEP, CLBC is building job capacity in local communities for people who want to work. Linda is assisted by three employment staff at WLACL, who help new hires get started on the job.
WLACL is experienced at breaking new ground. The association has been transitioning 10 employees at a WLACL-operated garbage transfer station to private sector jobs as part of the ongoing effort to reduce segregated workplaces in favour of community employment for people with disabilities.
Feedback from local employers has been positive, executive director Ian McLaughlin says. Sixteen of 22 people from age 19 to their 60s who are supported by WLACL’s employment specialists now have jobs in the community.
WLACL community employment manager Sharon Hooker agrees that encouraging employers to hire CLBC-eligible individuals has become easier since hiring a job developer. “The odd employer gives us a definite no, but most of them are very good at letting people try.”
Some employees are doing so well that their hours have increased since they started work. “We do work checks every month with employers. So far, they are very happy with their employees,” Sharon adds. “What really made the difference for us is having a dedicated job developer.”
As a local logging contractor, Linda has connections throughout the business community. She is co-located with Community Futures, a WorkBC subcontractor that develops self-employment and entrepreneurial ventures. Besides helping youth leaving school and older adults find jobs, she assists those who want to start their own business.
“Each and every day, I hit the pavement with a smile on my face to find that special job for someone I support,” Linda says. “I really enjoy working with the people I support and the many businesses in the community. I never thought this position could be so busy, but I’m busy, very busy at that.”
Karen Newman, CLBC regional employment coordinator for the Thompson-Cariboo, is pleased with the arrangement.
Already, she says, WLACL is training additional job coaches to meet the demand. It’s a sign of the potential for dramatically increasing inclusive employment across the province.