The supported employment programs of Easter Seals Nova Scotia’s New Leaf Enterprises

The supported employment programs of Easter Seals Nova Scotia’s New Leaf Enterprises

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | This is a guest post from Easter Seals Nova Scotia
(Member since 2014) | Published: November 7, 2023

This is a guest post from Easter Seals Nova Scotia
(Member since 2014)

The need for secure and fulfilling employment is as important for people with disabilities as it is for able-bodied individuals. Yet nearly 60 per cent of adults with disabilities in Canada are unemployed or not in the workforce. For able-bodied adults, that number is less than 30 per cent.

There are misperceptions about hiring a person with a disability fueled by stigmas and stereotypes. Will we be able to accommodate this person? How much will it cost to accommodate this person? How will our other employees interact with someone with varying abilities? These misconceptions about workers living with different abilities are causing companies to miss out on fantastic talent. In fact, staff moral often increases with the addition of disabled employees, as does customer loyalty.

There is a tremendous movement within the business sector to develop and implement equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA) policies to enrich the culture of a workplace and have the workforce better reflect the community a business operates within. These EDIA policies must include persons with disabilities, whose presence often changes not only the physical accessibility of the workspace but enhances the work culture for every employee. We see it every day.

New Leaf Enterprises is one of Easter Seals Nova Scotia’s four pillar programs and was one of the first social enterprises in Nova Scotia. The Employment Support Program work with employers in the community and disabled clients to facilitate job training and subsequent employment within the labour market. This highly successful program for youth and adults has generated numerous employment partnerships over the years in the private business and public service sectors.

In 2020, New Leaf Enterprises introduced The Next Step – Supported Employment Program for Youth with disabilities. This program focuses on young adults, ages 17 – 30, who have recently graduated from high school. These young adults are graduating to extremely limited opportunities in the workforce and are often left behind, effectively graduating them to the couch.

We know that these young people have specific challenges due to their age, particularly around skills development, interview performance, experience, and resume building. The Next Step Program incorporates workshops, training, and coaching in these areas, in addition to job development and one-on-one support with current and future employment partners.

To date, this program has provided job skills and coaching to more than 65 young clients with varying disabilities, with over 40 per cent currently employed. These individuals are ready and eager to start their employment journey, however the need for inclusive employers is high.

The strategic focus of The Next Step — over the next twelve months — is to fill the gap in inclusive employers in HRM. These young people are ready to go, they show up, they perform, and they contribute.

The New Leaf team of trained professionals will work with you to identify opportunities for individuals with disabilities in your company, and then our job coaches will stay on with the new employee until they feel comfortable to perform the tasks independently. The risks are very low, and the benefits are enormous to you as an employer.

Our city needs more companies to commit to hiring these individuals and New Leaf Enterprises is the pathway for employers to help make that happen.

Is your company ready to make that commitment? Let’s talk.

Carlton MacDonald
Manager of Supported Employment Programs
New Leaf Enterprises

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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