by Stacy Dunn
Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA) is looking for employers from all industries willing to hire someone with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“We want to promote an inclusive workforce on PEI,” says Adam Spence, RWA Labour Market Facilitator with PEI Association for Community Living, who manages PEI’s division of this national program. Local partners include Community Connections in Summerside, Community Inclusions in West Prince, Inclusions East in Montague, and Tremploy and Stars for Life in Charlottetown.
“The program is trying to reduce obstacles that people with an intellectual disability or ASD may face in gaining employment,” Adam says. “We act as a liaison between the job seeker and the potential employer to reduce the stigma that might exist about the job seekers’ abilities.”
Breaking down barriers
Often times, families and the individuals themselves may believe full-time, meaningful employment with decent wages and benefits is not possible. “RWA wants to break down this barrier with education and opportunities to show people with an intellectual disability or ASD are loyal and passionate about their work. History shows us that most of these job seekers are in it for the long-term.”
Adam has already met with several retailers willing to hire. “The opportunity to advance in retail is huge, from working in the warehouse and merchandising to handling cash,” he says. “It is my job to help employees with the accommodations they need to work, whether it is purchasing work boots or securing reliable transportation. Support is on-going for whatever workers need to be successful.”
Interview help for employers and potential candidates
RWA developed a nationwide learning module for employers on the benefits of inclusive hiring. “It shows the ‘ins-and-outs’ of preparing for and doing a job interview,” Adam says. “For example, a person with ASD may not make direct eye contact, which could be seen as a negative thing. The module prepares employers to handle this in a positive way.”
Job seekers get job interview assistance by practicing with mock interviews beforehand, and a job coach is with the person at the interview site.
Individuals are looking for full-time, part-time, seasonal or summer employment. If the individual chooses to go back to school or take training, RWA can provide note takers or link them to a program or service that will support their education.
“We want to bring together employers and people with an intellectual disability or ASD, give these workers a sense of independence and acceptance, and build confidence and knowledge while they are contributing to their community.”
Benefits of inclusive workforce
RWA’s own national survey found that hiring people with an intellectual disability or ASD resulted in:
- 94 percent of employees showing better than average punctuality and 95 percent attendance
- 97 percent of employees were better than average in getting along with co-workers
(Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship, University of British Columbia, 2018)
Other reports provided the following statistics on an inclusive workplace:
- 93 percent retention rate of employees (Siperstein, Romano, Mohler & Parker, 2006)
- 87 percent of customers indicated they would prefer to give their business to companies who hire inclusively
- 77 percent lower overall costs associated with accidents (KALETTA, Binks & Robinson, 2012)
For more information on Ready, Willing, and Able, contact Adam Spence, Labour Market Facilitator, PEI Association for Community Living at 902-394-0350 or email [email protected]
Ready, Willing and Able is funded by the Government of Canada’s Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities.