For Immediate Release
The OPUS 2 Project is commencing recruitment of individuals and employers to become part of the project with the goal to expand the opportunities of people with disabilities in the workforce.
The OPUS 2 Project will provide supported training to assist individuals with different abilities to prepare, get job training and ultimately, gain paid employment.
The OPUS 2 Project is funded by SPHERE Quebec through Employment and Social Development Canada’s Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities and The Manitoba Government.
The OPUS 2 Project is building on recommendations and successes of the OPUS Pilot Project, which resulted in 6 out of 9 participants (66%) being offered on-the-job training through internships and/or employment. All participants were able to increase their Essential and Employability skills, which resulted in increased competencies and confidence.
“Increasing opportunities in the community for employment for people with disabilities is one of our priority goals for this project,” said Jeff Traeger, President of UFCW Local 832, who helped spearhead the Pilot project and participated as an employer by providing an internship to one of the participants. “Often people with disabilities are ready and willing to work but are not recognized by employers. It’s time to progress forward and change the environment of our workplaces in a significant way.”
According to a 2014 research study by The Conference Board of Canada, almost 3.8 million Canadians, or 13.7 per cent of the population identified themselves as having a disability in 2012. The study also states that people with disabilities are generally as well educated as people without disabilities, but are three times more likely to be unemployed. As well, the study finds that companies that invest in accessible employment practices reported a number of business benefits including better job retention, higher attendance, lower turnover, enhanced job performance and work quality.
The OPUS 2 Project is building on the successes and lessons learned from the OPUS Pilot Project. The OPUS 2 project is designed to engage and support local employers to hire people with disabilities and to promote understanding and awareness among members of the public and local companies. Intended to transform the community employment system, OPUS 2 will be an effective bridge-builder between employers and potential employees.
“Hiring people with disabilities is a benefit for everyone involved, including employers, employees and our local community,” said Traeger. “With an increasing amount of baby boomers reaching retirement age, our workforce is shrinking and employers will soon be struggling to recruit and retain talent. “The OPUS 2 Project is intended to help fill that labour gap and create more inclusive and accessible work environments.”
“We want to help individuals develop Essential Skills, while also allowing employers to see people with disabilities as a great source of labour,” said Eddie Calisto-Tavares, President of Options for Success. “We know the difference that gainful employment can make, not only financially, but also for the sense of purpose, well-being and belonging.
The OPUS 2 Project will recruit participants by working with various employment services providers and co-create an individual learning plan for each of the participants.
The OPUS 2 Project team will work in collaboration with the agencies to provide follow-up and on-going support to both the individual and the company involved. The project will customize pre-employment readiness training and match the individual’s capacity to the employer’s needs in the labour market. The OPUS 2 Project is dedicated to helping all individuals with opportunities to learn and grow as they get ready to engage in the labour market.
“With our partners, we are working to bring together a measurable change in the area of employment for people with disabilities,” said Calisto-Tavares. “The OPUS 2 Project will provide important initiatives and steps to create a fully accessible and inclusive Winnipeg.”
For more information about The OPUS 2 Project, please visit: www.options4success.com
Eddie Calisto-Tavares, Project Coordinator
Options for Success Inc.
Sonia Deraiche, Development Officer
418- 522-4747 ext. 214