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New Calgary program providing employment gateway for youth with disabilities

When the program launched last summer, they thought the biggest challenge would be finding enough jobs to match to participants.

After all, there’s a pandemic and the economy isn’t so hot.

Turns out, the federally-funded GET-Work Youth Employment Transition Project program has been so successful, the biggest challenge now is finding more applicants to support, according to Gateway Association Calgary’s Samantha Grabinsky.

“That’s something that continues to surprise us. We opened our new office in a very strange climate with what’s going on in the world. It wasn’t business as usual,” Grabinksy said.

“We were thinking the struggle was going to be finding employers who wanted to work with us and take on these kids that were going into the workforce. But actually, we’ve been having amazing success in that realm.”

Already matched 18 youth with jobs

The Calgary division of Edmonton’s Gateway Association’s team of six has already matched 18 youth with disabilities to jobs since launching on June 1, 2020.

In some cases, they’ve matched the participants with more than one job.

They do this by eliminating the barriers, which besides connecting youth with employers, can include training and education. They can also provide bus passes and help buy work clothes in some cases.

“We do everything we can to help with any type of barrier that the job seekers are facing. We’re going to do everything in our power to help with that,” Grabinsky said.

Youth with disabilities between the ages of 15 and 30 can apply for the program and would be given one year of programming benefits.

There is no restriction on the type of disabilities and applicants can self-disclose with no doctor note required.

“We know how important it is for people to have that first job, get out there in the world, build confidence, get that first paycheque and be able to save up for college or for a car or just for doing things with friends,” Grabinksy said.

“Often young people with disabilities feel left out of that whole experience. And we have the resources to accomplish that.”

Those interested in applying for the program can get more information and fill out an application at www.gatewayassociation.ca/calgary.

They can also be contacted on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or by phone.