JW: First, at the board meeting in October, we welcomed two new board members: Elizabeth Dolman from Alberta, and Jon Breen from the Yukon.
At this meeting the board also ratified an amended constitution, bringing it up to date. An interesting feature of this ratified constitution is that there is now a designated seat for labour and a designated seat for business.
RC: How is this different from the past structure of your board?
JW: In the past, the structure was still very reflective of CCRW’s early beginnings, in which it was an organization created by local and provincial organizations. Now we’re in fact reflecting a much broader base. We feel that our partnerships with both business and labour are so critical to successful employment that we need to ensure at least one representative from each of these sectors.
In addition, the board, its nominating committee and ultimately its members are charged with ensuring that board members reflect the geography of our country, gender and certainly disability. In terms of board representation, CCRW has always been not just sensitive to, but ensuring through implementation, representation from each of provinces. We have now succeeded in having the Yukon represented on the board as well. With the decentralizing from the federal level to provinces, it is now even more critical to have a good geographical representation.
RC: There has also been a recent advancement of your Skills Training Partnerships program. Can you tell us about that?
JW: Pierre Pettigrew, the Minister of Human Resources Development Canada, recently committed support to the Skills Training Partnerships program under the federal Opportunity Fund.
Skills Training Partnerships is an example of CCRW developing a model, testing it out, working most of the “bump” out, and delivering it to local agents and their partners so that, at the local level, organizations can implement similar kinds of programs. This is a good process. We’re not just getting some dollars, putting a project together, deciding it does or doesn’t work and then putting it on the shelf. We’re trying to make sure that what we learn is useful, and is used both by professionals and by the people with disabilities whom it’s intended to support. I would say the Opportunities Fund is allowing us to do that even more successfully.
The program will come complete with a how-to manual, and CCRW will provide ongoing support, almost as a “help line” to the agencies putting Skills Training Partnerships into place at local levels. Many issues have come up to which we’ve found amenable solutions. All of this is available within our Orientation Program to the Skills Training Partnership.
RC: I understand that CCRW has a new logo. Can you tell us how that was conceived?
JW: The “squiggles” in the logo represent an equals sign. The reason that the lines aren’t parallel is because it’s “equality on the move” — constantly rising upward and forward, which is why you have that flow to it.
The “little guy in the wheelchair” is still there, but there was some debate over it. There was some sensitivity to the fact that CCRW is concerned about employment of people with all types of disabilities, and this symbol may imply that it’s only for those who have mobility disabilities. But eventually we realized that the general public doesn’t make the same kinds of distinctions that those who are really close to disability issues might make. For the general public, the “little guy in the wheelchair” is everybody with a disability. We had to recognize who we’re trying to get the message to — employers and workers who may not be as knowledgeable about all of these distinctions as people who work directly with disability-related issues.
RC: Do you have any final words on the direction of CCRW?
JW: I see CCRW as not just promoting, but practising, the whole notion of partnership. That’s been reinforced by written agreements we now have with various organizations. These agreements reflect a collaboration between us, and they also reflect a new and more powerful way of doing business. We are looking forward to even more of this in the future.
(For more information, contact the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work at (416) 974-2461; fax: (416) 974-5577; TTY: (416) 974-2636).
SKILLS TRAINING PARTNERSHIPS
The CCRW’s Skills Training Partnerships (STP) model provides persons with disabilities with training and work experience to prepare them for available positions with an employer partner.
The STP model is one of partnership among the employers, trainers, service providers, funders and persons with disabilities. The model is well suited to job seekers facing multiple barriers to employment, such as youth or Aboriginal persons with disabilities.
The candidates undergo an intensive training program. The employer, who makes the final selection of program participants, has an active role in the development of the classroom curriculum and the creation of on-the-job training opportunities in preparation for available positions.
The STP program also provides management and employees with the sensitivity training to develop an understanding of issues concerning people with disabilities.
THE CANADIAN COUNCIL ON REHABILITATION AND WORK
500 UNIVERSITY AVENUE, SUITE 302
TORONTO, ON M5G 1V7
TEL.: (416) 974-5575
FAX: (416) 974-5577
TTY: (416) 974-2636
WEBSITE: a target=”_blank”href=”http://www.ccrw.org”>http://www.ccrw.org