A Month of Celebration: Disability Employment Month

September is Disabilities Employment Month, and we are excited to bring you many stories about clients who have found great jobs, the employers who appreciate them, and some stats around hiring people who have disabilities. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Hal, a client of our service deliver partner Vancouver Island Vocational Rehab Society (VIVRS).

Finding your first job can be hard, especially when you have extra barriers. Hal had never had a long-term paid job at 25 years old, and had limited volunteer experience. Having left school in grade 11, Hal had challenges with concentration, writing, learning, and mental health. When he first started working with VIVRS, he was uncertain of what work he could even do and lacked insight into his skills and employable strengths.

Hal began working with an Employment Specialist at VIVRS to prepare to enter the workforce. His Employment Specialist supported him through employment workshops, such as creating a resume and interview skills, as well as encouraging his job search. Hal was an active participant with VIVRS and worked diligently applying for positions. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in finding employment using traditional methods and, based on his Employment Specialist’s observations, it was determined that Hal would benefit from more intensive services that included support with obtaining a Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation.

Hal was also referred to Customized Employment services which involved participating in Discovery Assessment. During his Discovery, Hal and his Employment Specialist completed task focused activities in his community to observe his strengths and skills in action. Through a number of activities, his Employment Specialist was able to determine a list of employment themes that would match Hal’s skills and interests, and extra services that would move Hal towards his employment goal. One of these recommendations was for Hal to improve his workplace skills. He agreed that he was ready and was referred to VIVRS Essential Skills Training, STRIVE. During this one-month program, Hal improved his workplace writing, reading and math while establishing a routine and getting to know his classmates. Hal showed great commitment and work ethic during STRIVE and completed with improved skills and improved self-confidence.

After STRIVE, the VIVRS team began connecting with employers on Hal’s behalf to find a customized position that matched his strengths while minimizing his barriers. One of Hal’s employment themes found during his Discovery was his skill with mechanic repair. The VIVRS team connected with various mechanics around Nanaimo and were successful in finding him an unpaid work experience. Hal was excited for the opportunity to gain confidence in his skills and on the job. With the on-site support of his Employment Specialist, Hal excelled at the work experience and was offered part-time employment as a mechanic assistant. To support Hal in his first job and ensure the placement was successful and sustainable, VIVRS provided on-site job coaching. VIVRS staff visited regularly to check in with both Hal and his new employer to address any issues that might arise. For Hal, this included help with paperwork and reporting his income, effective workplace communication, and effective personal presentation. When Hal became settled in his new position and his Employment Specialist determined hewas well connected with support, the Employment Specialist began to decrease VIVRS’s on-site support and Hal continued to excel.

After six months of hard work, Hal was promoted to full-time employment. He has been able to pay off debt, get his licence, and purchase a car. With the ongoing Job Retention supports of VIVRS staff, he gets monthly check-ins to ensure no barriers have come up at work and that his employment continues to be successful.

Congratulations to Hal, his employer and the great team at VIVRS that helped to make this happen!


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