For some people with disabilities trying to find employment, one of the largest barriers can be simply knowing how to go about doing so.
From simply putting together a resume to knowing where to look, what might seem like small hurdles can add up quickly and make the process difficult or even overwhelming.
That’s where the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work comes into play.
With October having recently been declared Disability Employment Awareness Month in Moose Jaw, the CCRW is one local organization looking to help those of all abilities enter and stay in the workforce.
How they go about doing so takes a variety of forms, beginning with some of the most basic job searching techniques as explained by CCRW Moose Jaw job developer Chris Rasmussen.
“One is the resume and cover letter, some of our clients simply don’t know how to write a resume or cover letter, or maybe don’t have the technology available,” he said. “Of course, in 2020, all of the jobs are online, so that technology aspect is something we do, maybe helping individuals learn how to use their smartphones or how to use a computer, how to surf the internet, and find where these jobs are at.”
The CCRW will even conduct mock interviews with clients to help prepare for that part of the process -- something that can be especially valuable for those with disabilities. And if additional small-scale training is needed, they can help facilitate that, as well.
“Say somebody’s barrier to employment is not having the training an employer is looking for,” Rasmussen said. “Training like first aid, CPR, food safety, if that’s all that’s keeping someone from getting a job, we’re more than willing to help out that individual. We’ll see if we can get them that training, then they can get the job.”
The CCRW works closely with Moose Jaw Families for Change and their Imagine employment program, which sees individuals of varying abilities working at the Kinsmen Cafe to gain a range of experience. Programs like that are invaluable in Rasmussen’s eyes.
“If I have a client who comes through that needs a little more hands on experience, especially when it comes to the food service industry, that program really works well,” he said. “It puts them through the Cafe program, showing them how to properly make coffee and the cakes they serve and the great meals they serve. Then they can take the individuals from that program and find longer term employment. After that, they can come to us and we can help find them that career, that long-term job that’s going to benefit them for years in the future.”
Partner businesses are also a big part of the CCRW’s efforts.
“We have several businesses in Moose Jaw who will call us and say ‘hey, I have this job available and I’m looking for a little diversity in the workplace’ or ‘I’m looking to support your program, do you have anybody available with a certain set of criteria’,” Rasmussen said. “We get those phone calls all the time… If anyone is looking for assistance when it comes to hiring, when it comes to diversity in the workplace, when it comes to inclusion in our community, you can give us a call and we can find out if you have a client who will match up or even in the future if something is there.”
Employer training is also part of the CCRW mandate, offering information to businesses on how to work with folks with disabilities and increase their inclusiveness.
All in all, the wide range of options offered by the organization can pay impressive dividends -- and even in times like these, there are plenty of success stories, something Rasmussen attributes to Moose Jaw’s willingness to do all it can to help.
“We’re still doing really, really well when it comes to finding people employment,” he said. “Even during COVID, we’re having out-of-this-world success with this program, which is getting people really enthusiastic and getting more businesses to call and more to partner up with us. Even in times like this, we have businesses reaching out and supporting us, and that’s always great to see.”
Finding out if the CCRW is the right fit for you is simple -- give the office a shout at 306-693-1760, answer a few quick questions, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
For more on the CCRW and what they have to offer, visit their website at www.ccrw.org.