This three-year pilot (April 2015 to March 2018) tested a collaborative and innovative approach to supporting the workforce needs of BC businesses and improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities. The pilot applied a business ‘demand-based’ approach, using a recruitment model to work directly with BC employers in specific industry sectors with high employment demand to match them with candidates who have the qualities, skillset, career interest and capabilities to do the job. BC WiN’s recruitment activities were performed by a Recruitment Specialist, who worked on behalf of employers to interface with partnering employment agencies to recruit suitable candidates. Post-recruitment, the Specialist continued to monitor each employment relationship to ensure that it was successful for all parties, interfacing between the employer, employee and agency to determine if any further supports were required.
As a pilot, this project was designed to provide important insights into establishing innovative partnerships between employers and disability serving agencies to facilitate the employment of people with disabilities in BC.
Connecting Employment Demand with Workforce Supply
From now to beyond 2020, major recruitment across the province driven, by attrition, business growth and expansion, is anticipated to make it harder for BC employers to find good people. Service and resource sectors are both widely recognized as facing significant workforce and skills shortages.
People with disabilities represent a traditionally untapped resource pool of potential candidates, representing approximately 400,000 people in BC with a self-disclosed disability, of whom many are ready for employment with no to minimal workforce preparation. The BC WiN partnership team recognized the opportunity to pilot a recruitment-focused approach that would better connect employment demand with this workforce supply, helping to make it easier for employers to engage these job seekers and gain a strategic business advantage by being more inclusive.
Key Features of the Pilot
The project began by identifying employment demand and opportunities in key sectors, then gauged interest from prospective employers that are well-positioned to lead by example and hire people with disabilities. Starting first with engaged employers in the Lower Mainland service and resource sectors, a Recruitment Specialist worked with these employers and a network of local disability employment service agencies to streamline the recruitment process and make it easier to connect businesses to qualified, job ready candidates with diverse abilities (disabilities) and unique skillsets.
In addition to working with a small group of industry leaders, the project partnership relied on leadership and input from the project team and representatives of local WorkBC Centres and other employment service agencies, coordinating and collaborating with other disability inclusion efforts currently underway in BC.
Through this process, BC WiN demonstrated that recruitment can be targeted and customized to meet specific shortages in high demand/high turnover entry level occupations – or connects qualified job seekers to available positions in participating organizations, including administrative, professional, technical, managerial or executive level positions. The goal for the project was to start with a small group of select employers, capture/share successes and lessons learned, then expand over the subsequent years to other employers and/or sectors in BC.
The pilot featured an evaluation that examined its benefits to employers, service agencies and other stakeholders as well as its potential impact on the outcomes of job seekers with disabilities. It also documented the process and partnerships between employers and service agencies to design and implement the model in order to inform future development.
Benefit to Employers
The project supported a business-centred approach, whereby referrals are made by a Recruitment Specialist who understands the unique needs of each business. The partnership anticipated that this model would benefit participating employers in the following ways:
- Recruitment is driven by employer needs
- Candidates are pre-screened and referred only if they are well-suited, have the right skillset and are a good match for the organizational culture
- The Recruitment Specialist will work with the company’s hiring team to strategically tap into the talent and contributions of people with diverse abilities in BC
- The Recruitment Specialist making candidate referrals will have established employer relationships as well as knowledge and expertise in the field/sector;
- The hiring process is simplified through a centralized connection point with multiple service agencies, providing a ready-to-hire pool of pre-screened candidates
- The pilot can access potential training resources and/or develop customized training opportunities linked to industry specific essential skills
- The pilot will mitigate risks to employers associated with accommodating people with disabilities through supports and expertise provided by an extensive network of professionals across the province
The project was led by the CfEE in partnership with the following members of the Employment Action Committee:
- Community Living BC
- Open Door Group
- Neil Squire Society
- Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (representing the BC Employment Network)
- Flaherty and Associates
- MacLeod Silver HR Business Partners
To learn more about the project and to explore current employment opportunities with BC WiN employer partners beyond the pilot, please visit the project website at www.bcpartnerswin.org.
The pilot was funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction’s Research and Innovation Fund.
In April 2016, the research team released the First Year in Review report that documented the project’s inception, development and findings from its first year of operations.
The Final Pilot Project Report was released in April 2018. This report provides an overview of the history, design, development, early successes and areas for future growth of BC WiN beyond the three-year pilot. It summarizes the key lessons learned from piloting an innovative approach to supporting employers who wish to recruit from diverse, untapped pools of talent. It also discusses the next steps for the initiative after the pilot, as BC WiN continues to serve a select group of BC employer partners who are committed to inclusive employment.
For queries about this project or other research activities being undertaken by the BC Centre for Employment Excellence, please contact Shawn de Raaf, CfEE Research Coordinator.