Employ Ability: Enhancing Employer Capacity to Recruit and Retain Diverse Persons with Disabilities - SRDC

Employ Ability: Enhancing Employer Capacity to Recruit and Retain Diverse Persons with Disabilities

Employers across all sectors in Canada have been facing unprecedented labour shortages, a challenge exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet current labour demands and more importantly, to remain competitive in the longer run, Canadian employers need to diversify their workforce and enhance the inclusivity of their hiring and retention practices. Persons with disabilities represent an untapped talent pool that could help employers meet both goals. This project aims to enhance employer awareness and capacity to hire, onboard, and retain diverse persons with disabilities. Implemented across Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba, the project provides training and coaching services to motivate and support employers through the important, yet potentially daunting, process of organizational change. Through initial engagement, we aim to raise awareness on the feasibility and benefits of hiring and retaining employees with disabilities. We then conduct an organizational assessment with each participating employer to gauge starting capacity and existing policies and practices. A classroom-based training with modules aligned with the hiring and retention process is delivered to increase employer knowledge. Guided experiential learning activities, delivered as coaching sessions, aim to facilitate further concrete actions by providing opportunities for the employers to work alongside subject matter experts to plan and enact organizational improvements. This also provides a proof-of-concept on our training model, preparing the evidence base for future roll-out.

This project is a strength-based, collaborative partnership between SRDC, Alberta Workforce Essential Skills (AWES), and the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN). Consultations with subject matter experts, persons with lived experience, and employers who have been pioneers in hiring and advancing persons with disabilities are conducted to guide project direction. An evaluation framework is designed and implemented to document project outputs, outcomes, best practices, and lessons learned. A sustainability plan is developed to ensure employer momentum can be continued post-project.

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