Skills and interest are pieces of puzzle to gainful employment
Lisa Bailey

PosAbilities Employment Service’s team is celebrating the first hiring of a person they support.

This individual, whose picture has gone “up on the wall at the recently-established service, is “quite happy to come back and share his story with new students and tell us how things are going” since he began his part-time position in the community about three weeks ago, manager Kalena Kavanaugh says.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” she says, noting the individual received his first paycheque last week.

Adding to the excitement is the service’s recent open house. Community and posAbilities staff members came to see the service’s new digs at 718 12th Street in New Westminster as well as learn about what takes place there.

Supported by Community Living British Columbia, posAbilities Employment Service assists individuals with developmental disabilities to prepare for, secure and maintain competitive employment.

Staff is experienced in matching each individual’s skills and interests with the employer’s needs.

This community partnership is a key to developing and promoting a vibrant, diverse workforce, which is one element of a truly inclusive community.

“It’s being part of a team and, just like everybody else,” employment provides a sense of purpose in daily living and can enhance quality of life, Kalena says.

The service is currently working with eight people, providing a range of support from resumé and cover letter preparation to on-the-job training.

Benefits for employers include prescreened and qualified candidates and help building a support system.

Kalena notes that the service is structured like a workplace environment with a kitchen area, for example, to store lunch and a set schedule for education and breaks.

An employment life skills facilitator provides information on rights and responsibilities as well as employer expectations.

Two employment specialists are involved in the discovery process, exploring individuals’ skills and interests and where they’d like to work in the community.

Once employment is secured, posAbilities can provide on-site support for the individual and employer.

Job coaching assists with training needs to ensure requirements of the job are met.

Kalena says developing community relationships and making them work is important for the service, as establishing a comfort level fosters learning about people with disabilities.

The service embodies posAbilities’ person-centred approach.

“We’re looking at what it is that people like to do and how we can help them to get their foot in the door to do that,” Kalena says.

“I always equate it to putting pieces of a puzzle together and when you find the right puzzle piece, it tends to connect and last longer,” she says.

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