No one taking that job? Try employing adults with diverse abilities | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

No one taking that job? Try employing adults with diverse abilities

Tara Soundy supports adults with diverse abilities in finding employment.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Tara Soundy

At a time when workers appear to be few and far between in some industries, a group in Kamloops is eagerly searching for jobs.

Tara Soundy is a program coordinator at the Kamloops Society for Community Inclusion. One of her jobs is to support adults with diverse abilities in finding meaningful employment. With fourteen years of experience under her belt, she is bringing awareness to the stigma she sees every day.

“I keep hearing on the news talk about businesses having a hard time finding employees,” she said. “We are constantly applying for jobs with the people we support and even though businesses are desperate to find staff, only a handful are willing to hire someone with diverse abilities.”

Soundy said some employers hesitate because they think the person with diverse abilities is going cost more time and extra training. She said sometimes an employer doesn’t have knowledge about diverse abilities and may have a hard time seeing the potential benefits.

“There is a stigma where some employers think the people we support are incapable of doing a job,” she said. “One of the main benefits is the reliability and punctuality those with diverse abilities typically give. They are some of the hardest working people I know and they want a job so bad they will do anything to keep that job, they are the ones to pick up the shifts.”

READ MORE: How this Kelowna agency helps people with 'diverse abilities' find meaningful employment

Soundy and her team take workers through a series of individualized steps and training tailored to that worker’s skill level and interests before approaching an employer for a placement. Soundy provides resumes and interview practices and accompanies prospective workers to interviews. New workers get paired up with a job coach.

“We do onsite job coaching which is great for employers who don’t have the time and energy for the extra training if it is required,” Soundy said. “The coach is there to guide and support the worker until the worker can be independent. We are the bridge.”

Soundy said some businesses have policies where they cannot hire someone who needs a support person, and that COVID has added more of a challenge because having a job coach means having an extra body.

She said some of the people she supports have maintained their jobs for years.

“Sometimes things go sideways, nothing is perfect," she said. “We do our best to correct the situation and push on. Mostly things run smoothly. We have lots of success stories. Employment builds confidence and gives the feeling of being valued in a community. It helps to develop life skills and expand social networks.”

READ MORE: Pilot project could help people with diverse abilities enjoy Kelowna's Knox Mountain

There are currently 35 people participating in the job program with one more being added soon.

Soundy said she has seen stigma geared toward those with diverse abilities lessen over the years, but it is far from gone. 

“I really want to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with diverse abilities,” she said. “They tend to not focus on the financial rewards of having a job, they want a valued role in society, to make connections and to attend events with their work team. We need to raise more awareness to the general public that they are capable.

"We recently had an employer reach out to us and offer a placement, which was a spark of hope."

Kamloops Society for Community Inclusion is a not-for-profit charity organization dedicated to serving adults with diverse abilities to lead full and meaningful lives through community inclusion, employment and creative housing models that are tailored to individual need.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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