Canadian Goodwill Program Helps Youth with Disabilities Go to Work

Male youth with disability works as a custodianIn an age of high unemployment, people with disabilities continue to have a harder time finding jobs than most. For decades, Goodwill has given people with disabilities the skills and tools they need to find jobs, build their careers and become independent.

In Canada, the Youth At Work Program is run by a career center at Goodwill, The Amity Group in Hamilton, Ontario. It is geared for young adults ages 16 to 30 who have self-disclosed disabilities and who have not been successful in finding or maintaining employment. Most of the participants in the program do not have high school diplomas.

Youth at Work operates in three phases. First, individuals receive job training and shadowing opportunities, during which they can earn paychecks, receive assessments of their work and obtain coaching on areas for improvement. Participants gain exposure to a variety of work experiences, build confidence and develop positive relationships.

The second phase involves work placement, during which youth can learn new skills within supportive environments. During this period, the employer provides additional training time and support based on the needs of the participant.

The third and final phase of the program focuses on helping participants obtain and maintain employment as well as ensuring they can meet employers’ expectations successfully. By the time participants enter the workplace, they will have demonstrated workplace standards and expectations.

Kavita Persaud, 18, enrolled in the program in February. Although she has post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety, she participated fully and was a positive force within the program and with her peers. After obtaining “Smart Serve” certification in the hospitality industry through the Goodwill, she has a full-time job in customer service and is looking forward to a bright future.

“This Smart Serve certificate will open up employment possibilities for me,” she says. “I am thankful that I had the opportunity to take part in this training through the Goodwill Youth at Work program.”