Perspectives and Innovations in Supported Employment from Canada and around the World
The 2nd World Supported Employment Conference “Inclusion Works!” concluded on a high note on June 8 with words of wisdom from our closing speakers and award winners. After a whirlwind three days of socializing, listening and learning, we are back in our homes and offices to reflect on all the people we met and the information we consumed.
The sessions “Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Down Under” and “What is Self-Advocacy and Why is it Important” reminded us that persons who experience disability are leaders in their own right.
Persons who experience disability are actively advocating for themselves and for other persons who experience disability. Every advocate creates pathways that will help facilitate the full inclusion of persons of all abilities across employment sectors.
Photo on left: Wayne Herbert presents “Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Down Under.”
The importance of representation in our organizations was highlighted in “What Does Leadership Look Like in the BIPOC Community.” In the session on intersectionality, we discussed how our varied experiences as individuals shape our commitment to ensuring full inclusion as leaders in the sector of supported employment. The process of nurturing a culture that is inclusive and respectful of diversity is a journey that requires commitment from organizational leaders and all staff.
Photo on right: Panel “Looking Inwards on the Intersectionality Journey” with (from left to right) Carissa Gravelle, Marcus Jamieson, Sahana Parameswara and Joanna Goode.
The 2023 CASE award winners—Dave and JoAnn Doepker, Narine Dat Sookram and Connie Polman Tuin—emphasized that supported employment is a team effort. To reach the finish line, job seekers, employment service providers, employers, resource organizations and all levels of government must forge both individual and collaborative routes.
The 620 delegates from 15 countries who attended “Inclusion Works!” represented the spectrum of professionals, stakeholders and advocates of supported employment. Everyone’s enthusiasm and eagerness evidenced the dedication to working together to challenge and to reduce the barriers to full inclusion in employment.
Photo on the far left: Connie Polman Tuin. Photo on the left: Dave and JoAnn Doepker
The spirit of innovation, creativity and collaboration that was evident throughout the conference was also present in the “What’s Innovation Doing in Canada?” session. For the past year, CASE’s Innovation Lab has sought some of the most promising innovations in the Canadian supported employment sector. At the conference, the Innovation Lab showcased their partners and projects from around the country.
Included were initiatives focused on:
- improved assessment and job-matching solutions,
- remote coaching apps,
- portals for service providers and job seekers,
- culturally adapted approaches,
- youth-oriented programming for employment transitioning,
- innovative storytelling and advocacy,
- specialized training, and
- strategies to reach the unreachable.
We would love to hear your visions, thoughts and potential changes to programs and services inspired from attending “Inclusion Works!”. Share with us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected].