By Matthew Liebenberg
Businesses in Swift Current will be showing their support for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) when they switch on purple and blue lights on Oct. 19.
Light it Up! For NDEAM is an annual countrywide initiative that uses this light display at businesses on a single night of the year to bring attention to the many ways people with a disability contribute to organizations and their communities.
Details about this initiative and the work of the SaskAbilities Partners in Employment office in Swift Current were shared during a regular City council meeting, Oct. 2.
The presentation was made by SaskAbilities Program Manager Jayda Watson and Partners in Employment Supervisor Jackie Powell in support of the proclamation of Oct. 1-7 as Disability Employment Awareness Week in Swift Current.
This proclamation by the City is part of different activities by SaskAbilities during the month of October to recognize and celebrate inclusive employers that hire individuals experiencing disability in Swift Current and area.
“Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity to open the discussion on hiring individuals with disabilities and barriers to employment, acknowledging the role we all play in fostering a disability-friendly work culture and making a workforce that is representative of the community and people that we all live with,” Watson said.
Swift Current will be one of many cities and towns across Canada to participate in Light it Up! For NDEAM. By the end of the first week of October there were 277 participating locations in 95 cities and towns around the county and that number was set to increase in the run-up to Oct. 19.
There were already 12 participating locations in Swift Current and Powell was looking forward to increase the number of businesses getting involved this year.
“Last year we had about 20 employers and we were amongst the top in the province for locations with that many businesses participating,” she said. “It’s really nice to see the participation across businesses in the city.”
SaskAbilities Partners in Employment sponsors the Swift Current Business Excellence award in the category for employer of person(s) experiencing disabilities. Eleven employers were nominated this year and the three finalists are Canadian Tire, City of Swift Current and Home Inn & Suites. The winner will be announced at the Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce annual business awards night, Oct. 27.
Different employers and employee success stories will be highlighted by SaskAbilities Partners in Employment during October. The first one at the start of the month was Val Laturnus, who is celebrating 20 years of employment at the Super 8 motel in Swift Current. Her success at the motel paved the way for others experiencing disability to work there.
“Partners in Employment assists individuals and businesses with recruitment of qualified job seekers, including talent matching to their business needs,” Powell said. “We continue to be humbled by the number of employers that continue to create inclusive employment opportunities for people experiencing disability and their recruitment practices.”
The presentation at the council meeting included the screening of a video featuring Dillon Currie, who is the community connector for SaskAbilities Swift Current as well as the Partners in Employment coordinator for the youth employment program.
The youth program provides assistance to those between the ages of 15 and 21 looking for employment.
Currie felt the best part of his role is to see how job seekers benefit from working with Partners in Employment staff and meeting employers.
“You can see that confidence grow,” he said in the video. “Definitely the most rewarding aspect of the job is watching people sort of blossom as they enter the workforce.”
Partners in Employment offers a variety of support services to job seekers. It includes resume development, preparing for job interviews, a job search, networking to connect job seekers with potential employers, work experience placements and job coaching.