A new pilot program to help people with disabilities gain work skills is being co-ordinated by Kootenay Employment Services (KES) in Creston. Working Solutions is available to residents throughout the East and West Kootenays.
“We are one of 10 areas selected from across Canada,” said Jacquie Thom, who co-ordinates the program for KES along with Emily Zahn. “The pilot project is designed to encourage anyone who has what they consider to be a disability to get on the job work experience.”
Under the Working Solutions program, employers can receive a 60 per cent subsidy for 34 weeks. Rates are negotiable depending on the position and training needed. To qualify, employers must possess a Canada Revenue Agency or Workers’ Compensation Board number, or be willing to get one.
“Anyone who has a disability that prevents them from finding suitable employment can apply,” Thom said. “Working Solutions also is designed to help people who need training — eligible participants can access funds to cover tuition, books, living costs, transportation and other accommodation at any accredited training institution. Courses, both short term and multi-year, can be taken in the classroom, online or by correspondence.”
“What makes this program unique is that it is open to anyone who feels they have a disability or health condition that affects their ability to enter their career of choice. It is available to those who have little or no work experience or who are underemployed,” said Thom.
Working Solutions is not available to full-time students or people who have received Employment Insurance benefits in the last three years (five for maternity).
“Please contact us for more information if you are have a disability that you feel is a barrier to entering the career of your choice. The pilot project extends for three years, through March 2014.”
Contact KES in person at 119 11th Ave. N., phone 250-428-5655 or fax 250-428-5336, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kes.bc.ca.