by Gloria Welton
Recently, PEI Council of People with Disabilities (PEICOD) held an in-person conference. The event brought together the business community, service providers, government, and educational institutions to talk about the realities and opportunities.
One local employer was recognized for her support and encouragement in hiring a staff person who has many abilities that fit her team.
Also, the event discussed a new approach to encourage networking and connecting to better support job seekers and to help employers hire and retain staff, in particular those with diverse abilities.
“Employers and job seekers are feeling the impact of the pandemic,” says Devon Broome, Employment Services Manager, PEICOD. “This has presented even more challenges and has reversed some of the progress previously made to dispel myths associated with hiring persons with disabilities.
“Employers are reporting challenges in finding suitable candidates during this time. However, there is an untapped workforce of persons with disabilities who are struggling to find employment. It is all about addressing misconceptions and opening the possibilities of healthy and appropriate employee/employer matches.”
E3-Effective Employer Engagement project
This project is for job seekers and employers who have been directly impacted by the pandemic. The focus is to ensure job seekers obtain skills that truly reflect the needs of today’s employers. “Only through collaborating with employers and the community as a whole will we make long-term strides in creating valuable work opportunities for individuals attempting to enter or reenter the workforce,” says Devon.
“This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart,” says Mary Hunter, Director of SkillsPEI. “Each of us have a role to play with respect to inclusion, diversity, and equity that needs to happen in our province to be successful. Coming together to make sure Islanders don’t have a gap in their work journey is very important.”
Alicia McNally, E-3 Project Manager, travels the Island from tip to tip to talk with employers about how COVID-19 has affected them and how PEICOD might help them to address some of their labour force challenges.
The E-3 project is developing a Supportive Employment Network that provides a platform for stakeholders to come together to share knowledge, discuss challenges, and identify opportunities. PEICOD has built and fostered valuable relationships with organizations that work with job seekers experiencing barriers to employment. The newly formed group has about 30 members from various organization across PEI.
Local employer recognized for excellence in employment inclusion
Supportive Employment Network is recognizing employers who make significant contributions to employment inclusion on PEI. Chef Sarah Bennetto O’Brien, Owner of The Handpie Company, was given the first outstanding employer award.
The Handpie Company started in March 2017 at Gateway Village in Borden-Carleton, as a year-round eat-in/takeout business offering flaky pastry stuffed with savory or sweet fillings. Two years ago, Sarah moved the operation to Albany at the former Scotiabank to increase retail/wholesale and manufacturing capacities. She distributes her product to various markets across PEI.
“I am honored to represent employers who hire people with disabilities and many abilities. I make it a point to ensure we are a very inclusive employer. We hire very cool people, and my plan is to keep my staff for the long-term.
“I am fortunate to have met the person I hired through the PEICOD. This person and I absolutely click. He needs to wear hearing aids, which improve his hearing by about 60 percent. He started as our dishwasher, moved into packaging handpies, and now five years in he is our Packaging and Facilities Manager, and trains all new staff in his department. It is all about focusing on abilities, helping to make each staff person comfortable, and supporting each one to flourish.”
PEICOD’s Alexia Riche unveiled their new Equity Diversity and Inclusion Training Module, which is now available to employers, organizations, governments, etc. by contacting the PEICOD office.
For more information about the Effective Employer Engagement project-E3, contact Devon Broome at 902-892-9149 ext. 225, or [email protected]
The E-3 project is funded by the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism, and Culture through the Canada-PEI Labour Market Agreements.