Carleton University’s ACT to Employ Program is seeking Canadian businesses that are interested in hiring postsecondary students with disabilities for short-term employment opportunities.
Launched in 2018, Accessible Career Transitions to Employment (also known as ACT to Employ) provides career support to Carleton students with disabilities.
When the program was developed, Carleton students with disabilities were graduating on par with students without disabilities, but the former were facing much lower post-graduation employment rates. ACT to Employ emerged as a solution to address that gap by providing support and resources to both students with disabilities and employer partners.
ACT to Employ helps establish pathways and talent funnels for employers—helping them understand and appreciate the value of students with disabilities and providing assistance for hiring and accommodating students so they can reach their full potential. Carleton students with disabilities are afforded hands-on experiential learning opportunities with employer partners that increase their employability skills, network connections and confidence.
ACT to Employ maintains a robust talent pool of 600+ students who identify as having disabilities. While these individuals may require some accommodations, they are accomplished, high-performing postsecondary students who are eager to learn and contribute. In many cases, students with disabilities face additional challenges and barriers in their lives, which require them to develop sought-after skills including flexibility, adaptiveness and innovativeness.
ACT to Employ also specializes in providing a variety of supports for businesses that want to hire more diversely, including:
- assistance with creating accessible job descriptions and/or making existing job descriptions more accessible in order to reach a broader and more diverse talent pool*;
- written resources related to the hiring process (for example, how to make an interview more accessible) and on-the-job accommodations that may be required;
- guidance on implementing required accommodations on a case-by-case basis – ACT to Employ has a dedicated staff member who is available to answer questions and provide support; and
- education on disabilities and accommodations in a ‘safe space’ – ACT to Employ is dedicated to cultivating trusting and respectful relationships wherein employers can ask questions and learn about accommodations without fear of making mistakes, saying the wrong thing or causing offense.
*Only as requested by the employer partner; ACT to Employ does not insist on creating or revising job descriptions.
ACT to Employ is looking for new employer partners that:
- want to hire more diversely but don’t know where to start or require support
- are already familiar with and recognize the benefits of hiring diversely and want to create talent funnels.
The ACT to Employ program is open to Canadian businesses of any size and in any industry. As a result of COVID-19 and many offices shifting to remote work, the ACT to Employ team is happy to work with organizations outside of the Ottawa region.
ACT to Employ placements are available on a term-by-term basis, so organizations are only required to make short-term employment commitments. There are opportunities to extend the placement if it is a good fit. In fact, organizations often end up wanting to hire ACT to Employ students—who prove to be indispensable—after they graduate.
While ACT to Employ does not get involved in the placements, it is expected that employer partners will be open to communications from the ACT to Employ team during the term. In particular, two check-in opportunities are offered (at the mid-point and near the end of the placement) to assess how things are going and whether additional support is needed. These check-ins are extended by email via a brief questionnaire.
Organizations that don’t implement inclusive hiring practices are missing out on a huge demographic that could positively impact their businesses. In fact, one in five—or 1.7 million—work-age individuals in Ontario identify as having one or more disabilities. By tapping into this often-overlooked market, your organization can broaden its perspective and its pool of potential applicants, thereby identifying strong candidates that may have otherwise been missed.
By working with ACT to Employ, you will not only gain access to qualified students with disabilities now, but you will receive the support, resources and education needed to hire more diversely over the long-term.
“Persons with disabilities have to be creative to adapt to the world around them. As such, they develop strengths such as problem-solving skills, agility, persistence, forethought and a willingness to experiment—all of which are essential for innovation.”Excerpt from Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage (2018)
For Carleton students with disabilities, the impact of participating in work-integrated learning opportunities through ACT to Employ is also profound. Notably, the experience helps improve their employment outcomes post-graduation through several mechanisms: they gain valuable work experience; they can learn about their own needs and required accommodations in an office environment, which helps set them up for success in their future careers; and they gain exposure to new information, skill-building experiences and networks.