For years, Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care (PPRC) has been making career mentorship matches for job seekers and people with disabilities through the MentorAbility program, an initiative of the Canadian Association for Supported Employment that promotes the recruitment, employment, and retention of people experiencing disability.
“We’ve conducted 54 mentorship matches since 2020 and expect to be closer to 60 at the end of the year,” said Linda Simpson, PPRC’s director of rehabilitation.
Since PPRC will no longer have the operational funding to support the MentorAbility project after Ontario’s Employment Services Transformation puts a new funding model into effect, Simpson and her team found a way to continue offering the service.
“In January, job seekers will be able to visit the PPRC Connect website and self-refer as a potential Ontario client,” said Simpson. Service providers will be able to charge for some of the cost to the systems managers under the new model.
A key benefit of the new integrated employment program is that applicants won’t need to have a disability to be eligible.
PPRC’s best practices for career mentorship
Mentorship is an incredibly useful tool for helping people without connections or a network explore a field they want to pursue.
“We connect young people who want to explore a career path to an employer for a virtual meeting, or a half or full day on site.”
It sounds simple enough, but that’s due to the best practices PPRC has developed over the years.
“We help clients identify the right career path by uncovering their field of interest,” said Simpson. “Then we seek out organizations that offer those types of jobs.”
Next, they provide information to the mentor about the mentee’s abilities and discuss any accommodation needs.
Over the years, PPRC has helped hundreds of people using this formula. They’ve even matched a few clients to a mentor with the same disability.
“We had a client with vision loss who was interested in the Public Service,” said Simpson. “We matched them to someone within Health Canada who also had vision loss.”
“Career development changes everything”
November is career month, and this year’s North American theme is “Career development changes everything.”
For people with disabilities, the biggest change is being lifted out of poverty.
Simpson can tell story after story attesting to that fact. “We had a neurodivergent client whose grocery store job wasn’t a great fit,” she said. “We placed him with a mentor at Fieldless Farms and he was offered a position by the end of the day.”
Even if a mentee doesn’t get a job offer on the spot, what they do get is inside information. “Mentors often tell mentees what to put on their resume and which skills they should highlight when applying for jobs,” said Simpson.
Using the PPRC preparation-is-key formula, mentors leave the experience wanting to support more people. With that kind of success, expanding the program makes sense.
“Now we can also help newcomers, retirees, people who are underemployed, or youth coming out of the foster care system,” said Simpson.
Recently, her team helped a professional from Iran who was educated in Canada to undertake a mentorship with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. This gave them the courage to pursue a two-year federal government internship program for Canadians with disabilities.
How to make your mentorship a success
The first thing Simpson and her team look for in a mentee is someone who’s expressed an interest in wanting to work.
In mentors, they’re looking for employers who want to be more inclusive.
Simpson says employers who come to her with an open mind will leave the experience knowing they’ve contributed to somebody’s career path.
It’s a good feeling.