They saw it coming, the day when the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion’s (BACI) employment services for people who have an intellectual disability would become incredibly busy and challenging, says manager for economic inclusion Steve Withrington.
In fact, “we anticipated and hoped it would get to this point,” Steve tells BACI Blast.
Awareness is growing around BACI’s employment services and training (BEST), which was started two years ago. Connections are giving rise to other connections, both between people looking for work and organizations looking to hire.
Several people have engaged in new employment opportunities in recent months, including at Superstore, EcoTrends Ecologics, Dog’s Breakfast pet store and Canadian Tire, amongst others. Steve notes these recent achievements came about in large part because of the groundwork done by the BEST team in co-creating networks of connections.
Adding to the busyness, many BEST team members are now working with a caseload of 10-12 job seekers, each of whom is at a different step in the job development process.
The richness of what the team has to offer also expanded recently with additional services introduced. They include a self-determination course, which works with people to identify their skills and interests and how they want to put them to use.
A two-session introduction to the employment services was also created recently. It’s intended to help people decide if going through the employment services and training is for them.
“We’ve created a kind of step-up system, which allows people to express an interest in employment, take the introductory course and from that have the option of signing up for the self-determination class,” Steve says. People may then participate in the full-out Discovery program, which takes them from identification of job possibilities to landing a job to on-the-job coaching.
“As we go quarter to quarter we are effectively serving more and more people,” Steve notes, adding that, of course, everything must still be recorded and the impact of the services demonstrated.
The big question is how to not only sustain the current level of activity but also increase it, because it will only get busier, Steve adds. “It will not get quiet,” he says.
BACI’s senior manager for social and economic inclusion Kevin Lusignan says he’s excited to see the good work the BEST team is doing.
“I think they’re starting to mature into a service that is really starting to make some traction and we’re seeing people start to get work,” he notes.
“We’re now having to try and cover all the bases; we’re getting stretched a little bit, and I think that’s a good thing,” he adds.
— More to Come
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