The Employment Services team offers support to adults with intellectual disabilities who wish to pursue meaningful work.
Employment Services originated in 1991, around the time that the Kenora Association for Community Living closed its sheltered workshop, ARC Industries. This action was aligned with a broader social initiative, known as the Community Living Movement, whose main goal was the repatriation of people back into their home communities, from larger residential institutions, further challenging the appropriateness and the basic assumptions that contributed to the creation of sheltered workshops, and other segregated vocational training settings.
The Employment Services team understands the importance for people to have meaningful work in their lives. The dignity derived from employment is known to contribute to better health outcomes, to improvements in quality of life and well-being, and to the reduction of social exclusion and poverty.
The Employment team spends time with people to explore their talents and interests, to listen to their dreams, and to identify the type of employment that best reflects them. People are supported in getting the jobs they want through training and education, through assistance in searching for employment opportunities, and through entrepreneurial partnerships with employers that create innovative possibilities within existing business environments. Employment Services assist people in maintaining their employment, through ongoing support to hone skills and to navigate workplace culture and relationships. People are encouraged to broaden their skill base, to continue to learn in the workplace, and to expand the scope of their employment opportunities.
As with every service model, Employment Services is not without its challenges. The Employment team are faced with cultivating job opportunities in a delicate economy, addressing attitudinal barriers, accommodating a lack of adequate public transportation, supporting a new demographic of young people who challenge assumptions about how we define meaningful work, and policies that are seen by many as disincentives to participate in the work force.
In the face of many challenges, members of the Employment team remain inspired by each opportunity to share in the personal benefits of fulfilling work, and what it means for people to make a meaningful contribution to the fabric of their community.