Rotary working on employment for people with disabilities

by Lucie Roy

Meaningful employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities is the goal of a project Rotary business owners and employees are currently involved in. The Rotary Employment Partnership is a project between District 5370 and 5360 of the Rotary Club, the Alberta Association for Community Living and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Program and Community Boards (Alberta Seniors and Community Supports).

Speaking at the Morinville Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday, St. Albert Rotary Club guest speaker Jackie Heitzman said to date more than 350 jobs have been created province-wide.

“As people with developmental disabilities seldom find employment through conventional job recruitment strategies, this project is essential as it creates employment opportunities that would otherwise not be available,” Heitzman said. “Without this partnership, businesses and employers would not have access to a workforce that is motivated, reliable and ready to work.”

Heitzman went on to say the project also provides the necessary support to employers, co-workers and people with developmental disabilities to ensure everyone is successful. Often employers create jobs according to the needs of their business, but without sometimes understanding how an employee with developmental disabilities could fill existing or future positions.

The project offers help to business owners and employers to think about how jobs can be re-defined so as to maximize efficiency and productivity while creating the possibility of an employment opportunity for someone with a developmental disability.

Heitzman said employers do not need to feel they have to create a full-time job; a good job can mean working part time. As more skills are learned and mastered, more work and more hours can be added on at a later date.

Many existing jobs contain performance requirements that vary in complexity and skill task. By re-assigning less complex but still essential functions to these individuals, non-disabled employees are able to concentrate on the primary demands of their work.

For more information on the program contact Wendy McDonald at works@shaw.ca or Bruce Uditsky at buditsky@aacl.org.

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