Why employees with diverse abilities are who you want to hire in Kamloops, Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why employees with diverse abilities are who you want to hire in Kamloops, Okanagan

Krystian Shaw has developmental disabilities and currently manages a newsletter.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Krystian Shaw

Some residents in Kamloops are speaking up about the benefits of hiring workers with diverse abilities during a time when some businesses are reporting staff shortages. 

Andrew Townsley is a supervisor at Absorbent Products. He was matched up with an employee a couple of months ago through the Kamloops Society for Community Inclusion, an organization that matches employers with employees, depending on the employee’s interests and skill levels.

“She is reliable and personable,” Townsley said. “She makes everyone else around her smile. She has been a great addition to the team.”

Absorbent Products is a fast-paced manufacturing type of setting and Gina Franks’s job is to put labels on jugs that are getting ready to be filled with product.

Townsley didn’t have to make any workplace adaptions, and he didn’t lose time or have to provide extra training when he took Franks onboard.

“When she started she had a job coach with her which allowed for a smooth transition,” he said. “She started at two, two hour shifts per week and is now doing more because she wanted more hours.”

Franks said she loves her job.

“My boss said I am a real asset to my team and my production is as high as anybody else’s,” she said. “I am able to help with smaller things that allows my team to work faster. I like having money so I can go shopping.”

READ MORE: Jobs aren't the issue for Kamloops, Okanagan workforce — affordable housing is

Krystian Shaw, a person with diverse abilities, advocates for others through his newsletter called the Kamloops Self Advocate. Shaw held several different jobs in his life before committing to working full time on his newsletter.

“It is important for people to find employment because it gives people a sense of achievement and empowerment,” Shaw said. “When people assume I’m not capable of having a job it makes me feel really bad.”

Shaw has watered plants at Walmart, cleaned at a thrift store, washed dishes and helped at a science centre. He is now the reporter and manager of a local newsletter.

“Please try to employ people with diverse abilities,” he said. “They will be great employees. We can be self-employed or work in a regular business.”

Tara Soundy, a program coordinator at the Kamloops Society for Community Inclusion, supports adults with diverse abilities in finding meaningful employment and advocates for employers to hire them.

“We want employers to understand the benefits of hiring the people our society works with,” she said. “Any adaptations that are necessary are typically easy to make. For example, if a worker is in a wheelchair, the café they want to work at will already have to be wheelchair accessible for customers.”

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

Soundy said sometimes it is a matter of lowering a table, or changing lights that are too bright, or allowing a worker to sit instead of stand.

“I think it is a misconception some have that different needs are difficult to manage,” she said. “I want employers to be aware it isn’t as daunting as it might seem. There are many different jobs those we work with are fully capable of."

Townsley said he highly recommends hiring someone with disabilities.

“With the program the society has in place there is no reason why people who have disabilities cannot be a part of any working team right now,” he said.

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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