Supporting employment in the classroom and the workplace

Supporting employment in the classroom and the workplace
Economy, Education Monday, May 4, 2015 12:30 PM

Government is providing more than $1.2 million to develop training and resources aligned with in-demand occupations in a range of sectors for post-secondary students with disabilities. Twenty public post-secondary institutions will each receive one-time funding of $50,000 in 2015-16 in alignment with B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, which celebrated its one-year anniversary last week.

Langara College will receive an additional $100,000 toward the Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources (CAPER-BC) for accessible learning and teaching materials in math and trades. British Columbia Institute of Technology will receive an additional $100,000 toward the Post-Secondary Communication Access Service (PCAS) to support students with visual impairment or hearing loss. The Program for the Institutional Loan of Adaptive Technology (PILAT) will also receive $75,000 toward equipment and software to help students with disabilities. CAPER-BC, PCAS and PILAT support public post-secondary schools throughout the province.

British Columbians with disabilities will also be able to access assistive technology through the Technology@Work program to help reach their employment goals. The Neil Squire Society will receive $3 million annually over the next three years to deliver the new Technology@Work assistive technology program to support employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Technology@Work will provide assistive technologies, such as mobility supports, assistive devices such as alternative keyboards and voice input equipment, hearing devices and workplace modifications. The new program will complement existing employment programs, such as the Employment Program of BC. Technology@Work will also provide employers and organizations with information and connect them with assistive technology to help them better support their employees.

The funding supports B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, as well as Accessibility 2024, a 10-year action plan announced in June 2014 to make B.C. the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities.

The provincial government launched B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint in April 2014 to align funding and programs with in-demand occupations. The Blueprint includes goals to provide better access to technical and trades-related training for learners with disabilities.

B.C. anticipates more than one million job openings by 2022; more than 78% of these positions will require some form of post-secondary education and 44% will need skilled trades and technical workers.

Quotes:

Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Michelle Stilwell –

“The Technology@Work and the supports for post-secondary students will help break down the barriers people with disabilities face when it comes to training, education and jobs. Our goal under Accessibility 2024 is to have the highest labour participation rate in Canada for people with disabilities. The funding announced today opens up more opportunities to help us reach that goal.”

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson –

“People with disabilities encounter unique challenges as they seek both education and employment. B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint outlines a plan to help British Columbians access education and training so they can secure meaningful employment and contribute to a diverse, strong and growing economy.”

North Island College faculty instructor for special education Ellen Chambers –

“This employment transition and construction labourer program can be life-changing for students with disabilities. It helps them achieve independence and confidence as a result of the valuable construction and employability skills they are developing. It is exciting – when you create a program that meets the needs of students, they are motivated.”

Neil Squire Society executive director Gary Birch –

“The Neil Squire Society has over 30 years experience delivering assistive technologies to people with disabilities. Assistive technology can open up a world of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. We’re excited about the potential of Technology@Work to help those individuals who need this technology either take up job opportunities or to help them to continue to stay productively employed.”

Hannalora Leavitt assistive technology user –

“Assistive technology has helped me in the completion of my master’s degree and to find work as an arts and culture writer. My computer’s screen reader and accessible smartphone technologies have also helped me to learn about and independently access all kinds of online services. In order to be competitive in today’s workplace, it is critical that people with disabilities have access to specialized technologies and training to support our employment goals.”

Learn More:

B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: http://ow.ly/KNAd8

Neil Squire Society: www.neilsquire.ca

Accessibility 2024: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

Two backgrounders follow.

Media Contacts:

Stacey McGaghey Jones
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Advanced Education
250 952-6400

Maryann Anderson
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Social Development
250 387-6490

BACKGROUNDER

Disability training grants help people succeed

Each of the following institutions received a one-time grant of $50,000:

  • British Columbia Institute of Technology
  • Camosun College
  • Capilano University
  • College of New Caledonia
  • College of the Rockies
  • Douglas College
  • Emily Carr University of Art + Design
  • Justice Institute of British Columbia
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Langara College
  • Nicola Valley Institute of Technology
  • North Island College
  • Northern Lights College
  • Northwest Community College
  • Okanagan College
  • Selkirk College
  • Thompson Rivers University
  • University of the Fraser Valley
  • Vancouver Community College
  • Vancouver Island University

In addition, British Columbia Institute of Technology and Langara College each received a one-time grant of $100,000. The Program for the Institutional Loan of Adaptive Technology (PILAT) also received $75,000 toward equipment and software.

The Ministry of Advanced Education provided $1.5 million provided in 2014-15 for accessibility programming. Examples of 2014-15 funding projects include:

  1. North Island College – A program to help students living with disabilities gain job skills for entry-level construction labourer positions.
  2. Northern Lights College – Training for trades instructors so they can enhance their teaching styles in order to help learners with disabilities succeed.
  3. Northwest Community College – A warehouse training program for people with a variety of barriers, including learning disabilities and mental health issues.
  4. Okanagan College – A gateway program for high school students with multiple barriers who wish to enrol in a dual-credit program to complete foundation studies.
  5. Vancouver Community College – A course for high school students with learning barriers to help them transition to post-secondary school. It includes classroom training at VCC and placements to develop job skills.

Media Contacts:

Stacey McGaghey Jones
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Advanced Education
250 952-6400

BACKGROUNDER

Assistive technology program opens up employment opportunities

  • There are more than 546,000 people in B.C. over the age of 15, who identify as having a disability – almost 15% of the population.
  • More than eight out of 10 persons with disabilities in Canada use aids and assistive devices.
  • On average, the total cost to accommodate an employee with a disability is less than $500.
  • Since April 2012, the Employment Program of BC and associated local WorkBC Employment Service Centres have helped nearly 8,000 people with disabilities reach their employment goals.
  • Since 2012, the B.C. government has invested more than $1.34 million to assess technology needs and provide assistive technology to almost 600 job seekers with disabilities through the Employment Program of BC.
  • The Neil Squire Society will deliver the Technology@Work program throughout B.C. in partnership with the Tetra Society. The society’s Assisted Technology Evaluation Centre in Burnaby will be the central hub for the Technology@Work program.
  • As part of Accessibility 2024, the Technology@Work program supports the B.C. government’s goal to have the highest labour participation rate for people with disabilities in Canada by 2024.
  • Accessibility 2024 is the B.C. government’s 10-year action plan to make B.C. the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities.

About Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a device or equipment that increases or maintains the functional ability of a person with disability. Common examples of assistive technology include communication and hearing devices, screen magnification software, voice recognition software, prosthetics and workplace modifications that support accessibility.

About Neil Squire Society

Neil Squire Society is the only not-for-profit organization in Canada that, for the past 30 years, has used technology, knowledge and passion to empower Canadians with physical disabilities. The society has developed innovative programs and services and some of the world’s leading edge assistive technology for people with physical disabilities. More than 30,000 people with disabilities in Canada have benefited from the work of the Society. With more than 75 staff across the country, the Neil Squire Society head office is in Burnaby and reaches people across British Columbia via distance education.

Media Contacts:

Maryann Anderson
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation
250 387-6490

Chad Leaman
Director of Development
Neil Squire Society
604 473-9363 ext. 173