AbbotsfordWORKS hosts disability hiring event

Studies show hiring someone with a disability offers benefits to employers

Minister of Social Development Dr. Moira Stilwell addressed a full house at Abbotsford WORKS during the official opening ceremonies on Friday

Minister of Social Development Dr. Moira Stilwell addressed a full house at Abbotsford WORKS during the official opening ceremonies on Friday

Hiring a person with a disability can make good business sense with the right fit, which is why AbbotsfordWORKS is holding a unique hiring event next Wednesday.

“I don’t want to put people in situations where they’re going to fail. I’m building relationships,” explains Rodney Wiebe, a job developer with AbbotsfordWORKS.

“Yes, there may be limitations but we need to focus on abilities and see where that person fits.”

Wiebe wants Abbotsford and area employers to participate in the day-long AbbotsfordWORKS Hiring Event for the community, which will feature candidates with disabilities for the first two hours. There is no charge for businesses to register.

Studies show that hiring someone with a disability – which could be physical, intellectual or mental health related – offers benefits to the employer. Disabled employees have lower rates of absenteeism and turnover while they demonstrate high productivity and a good attitude.

Of the 800,000 Canadians who report having a disability, says Wiebe, nearly half have completed post-secondary education.

Despite all these advantages, recent statistics show that adults with disabilities are under-represented in Canadian workplaces. Nationally only 56 per cent of disabled adults have jobs compared to 74 per cent of other Canadians, while in B.C. only 2,675 of 18,890 disabled adults have work. According to a recent study by Community Living B.C., most adults with intellectual disabilities work only part-time.

“Everyone has some sort of ability to offer an employer,” says Wiebe, who is determined to change these statistics in Abbotsford. He has successfully placed people with local employers including Tradex, Regional Recycling, Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

“Marshalls at High Street hired a deaf woman to work as a cashier and they figured out a way to make it work. It’s been great and the concessions they made to help her work didn’t cost anything.”

Another successful employment relationship Wiebe helped to facilitate is with Peterbilt Pacific Inc. in Surrey.

“Over the last 10 years we have hired three employees who self-identified their disabilities. These included moderate learning disabilities and dyslexia, with our most recent employee having more acute disabilities,” explains Jessica Neufeld, human resource manager.

With the latest employee she says, “Our only adjustment was to provide the time necessary to give very detailed hands-on training. To do this we needed make sure that we understood his skills set and his ability to learn.”

Neufeld encourages other business owners and hiring managers to try hiring a disabled employee: “With the right fit and the right support internally and externally from organizations, it can be a success.”

The hiring event takes place March 11 at Apollo Multiplex Centre, at 3600 Townline Rd. It’s open for people with disabilities from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and for the general public from 11:30-3:30 p.m. Contact Rodney Wiebe at 604-859-4500, ext. 306 to register.