proxyThis news release has been edited for accuracy

A study that will help create improved access to engineering and technology employment opportunities for people with disabilities is being launched in the Lower Mainland.

The Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C. (ASTTBC) association is receiving more than $40,000 to look at different barriers to employment, as well as new opportunities, for people with disabilities to work in the tech industry.

This study, expected to be made public by Dec. 9, 2016, will explore ways to increase opportunities for people with disabilities to enter the sector. Through surveys of at least 125 employers who hire tech-related employees, employer workshops and focus groups with people with disabilities, the final report will feature best practices to support hiring people with disabilities, as well as specific training and educational needs.

Other organizations contributing in-kind support to the project are the Partners in Workforce Innovation, Back In Motion, the Surrey Board of Trade, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of BC, and BC Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network.

The project aligns with the #BCTECH Strategy, a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse knowledge-based economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and job creation throughout the province.

Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation funding is provided through the Labour Market Partnerships stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships program, which funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.

Community and Employer Partnerships are featured in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and provide support to people who are struggling to gain a foothold in the job market. It also helps build stronger partnerships with industry and labour to connect British Columbians with classroom instruction and on-the-job training, while making it easier for employers to hire the skilled workers they need – when and where they need them.

To date, more than 1,200 job seekers have benefited from work experience and more than 240 projects have been funded throughout the province.

Quotes:

Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –

“We’re funding this project because we are committed to finding more ways to help people with disabilities find full-time employment in our growing economy. B.C.’s tech sector is providing more and more opportunities every day and it is important that all British Columbians have the opportunity to join in.”

Darryl Plecas, parliamentary secretary for seniors and accessibility, and MLA for Abbotsford South –

“By funding this project, we are finding the best ways to support employers in hiring people with disabilities, a largely untapped talent pool that can go a long way in helping businesses thrive.”

John Leech, CEO, Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C. –

“ASTTBC is committed to facilitating employment opportunities and can make technology sizzle for people with disabilities. There is a real demand in B.C. for engineering and applied science technologists, technicians and technical specialists and this project will help ASTTBC engage with employers by defining present skills utilization and looking ahead to future opportunities for people with disabilities. This joint venture with the B.C. government and our many partners amplifies ASTTBC’s leadership in enabling employment for all British Columbians, which is so important as we work together to address the need for highly skilled technology professionals.”

Anita Patil Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade –

“The Surrey Board of Trade, as Surrey’s voice of business, is pleased to support and be a partner in this program with ASTTBC and other partners. Entrepreneurship and employment are priorities for us, and people with disabilities have significant value as workers in the technology industries.”

Jamie Millar-Dixon, recruitment specialist, BC Partners in Workforce Innovation –

“BC Partners in Workforce Innovation is a three-year pilot program underway in B.C. that tests a demand-based recruitment approach to help connect employers to the talent pool of people with diverse abilities.  We appreciate our partnership with ASTTBC and recognize the extraordinary leadership role the organization is undertaking on behalf of technology sector stakeholders in B.C. We look forward to supporting this important research project.”

Brent W. Mulhall, vice-president of business development and strategy, Back In Motion Rehab Inc. –

“Back in Motion is very excited to be part of this exciting project to assist persons with disabilities in finding employment with companies connected to ASTTBC. The roles that are being considered are real and well-paying jobs. As one of the largest employment service providers in B.C., with five WorkBC centres, we feel this is a great opportunity for our clients and the industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • B.C.’s tech sector is growing rapidly, with 92,700 people earning a weekly average salary of $1,580, which is 75% higher than the provincial average. The tech sector employs 4.6% of B.C.’s workforce – more than the mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined – and is one of the largest growing sectors in Canada.
  • In 2016-17, the ministry has committed to investing $331 million in employment and labour market programs under the Employment Program of British Columbia.
  • The Employment Program of BC is funded by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada through the Labour Market Development Agreement.
  • Funding supports 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout the province and the five components of the Community and Employer Partnerships fund:
    • Job Creation Partnerships
    • Labour Market Partnerships
    • Project-Based Labour Market Training
    • Research and Innovation
    • Social Innovation

Who is eligible for Community and Employer Partnerships funding?

  • Businesses
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Crown corporations
  • Municipalities, agencies or territorial governments
  • First Nation bands/tribal councils
  • Public health and educational institutions

bc2Learn More:

Learn more about the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC: https://asttbc.org/

Find out more about the #BCTECH Strategy: www.bctechstrategy.ca

For more information on Community and Employer Partnerships:www.workbc.ca/CEP

Find a local WorkBC Employment Services Centre: www.workbccentres.ca

Learn more about the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi

For more information on B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills

To find out more about the BC Jobs Plan: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/