Hundreds of people with disabilities will be able to achieve greater independence and find meaningful employment, thanks to the extension of the Province’s popular Technology@Work program.
More than 1,140 people have already accessed Technology@Work, where people with disabilities can get the assistive technology they need for employment. A $2-million investment from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and $1 million from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training will support the one-year extension of the program, which has been operated by the Neil Squire Society since May 2015.
“People with disabilities have the skills and talents that many B.C. employers are looking for,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Everyone in B.C. deserves an equal opportunity at finding meaningful employment, and the extension of this program will give people continued access to the technology they need.”
“Our government’s commitment to keep funding programs like Technology@Work is a win for us all,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “This funding helps people with disabilities access the technology they need to thrive in the workplace, and lifts our society up as a whole, benefiting all British Columbians.”
Jack McAllen, a visual effects artist, has benefited from the Technology@Work program. Born with a hearing impairment, further deterioration to his hearing was making it increasingly difficult for him to receive feedback on his work – an important part of any job.
“I definitely feel like now I actually have a future,” McAllen said. “Now, I don’t have to worry about not being able to hear people. It has definitely boosted my future employment opportunities.”
The program has provided assistive technologies, such as mobility supports, alternative keyboards, voice input equipment and workplace modifications to people provincewide. The Neil Squire Society also provides expertise and advice to employers who are, or want to be, more accessible and inclusive.
“We are excited that the Province of British Columbia has extended this important program,” said Gary Birch, executive director of the Neil Squire Society. “We look forward to continuing to provide our expertise in assistive technology and ergonomics to workers and volunteers across British Columbia.”
The Technology@Work program is one of a number of services and supports available to people with disabilities in B.C. that help them on their path to employment. Other supports available through the Employment Program of British Columbia include career planning and workshops, skills training and job coaching, and extended followup support.
The ministry issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) as a first step in securing a long-term contractor to operate the program moving beyond March 2019. A subsequent request for proposals (RFP) will lead to the selection of a contractor. The RFQ closes on Jan. 11, 2018. It can be viewed on BC Bid (# ON-003087): http://ow.ly/724G30gKYGx
- September 2017 marked the fourth-annual Disability Employment Month in B.C., celebrating the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce, and the employers and communities who support their success.
- About 334,000 British Columbians, ages 15 to 64, self-identify as having a disability.
- There are 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout the province that serve British Columbians, including people with disabilities.
- The President’s Group, an advisory group to government, is a change-driven network of 22 B.C. business leaders committed to working with private sector employers to help increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
- 47% of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 to 64 years are employed, compared to 74% of people without disabilities.
For more information about the Technology@Work program, visit: www.BCTechAtWork.ca
Find out about other supports available through the Employment Program of B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/eppe/employment-program-of-british-columbia
For resources on how to become more accessible and inclusive, visit the President’s Group: http://www.accessibleemployers.ca/