Students gain employment direction


BACI pilot project works with school board, CBI Consultants
Wednesday November 2, 2011 —
Deb Bartlett

Four students have a clearer idea of what they want to do after high school and how they’ll get there because of a new pilot project says Steve Withrington, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI)’s manager for employment services.

Without participating in the program, Steve doesn’t think the four students would be heading in “as clear a direction as they are now.”

They could have completed their schooling without any direction around employment, and “would no doubt have signed up for some kind of day program” when finished school.

Because the school district and education assistants are involved in the pilot project, the process is taking place years sooner.

Working with the Burnaby School District and CBI Consultants, the project supports four senior high school students in moving from high school to employment, rather than to traditional day supports.

“These kids are going to stand a much, much better chance of engaging in employment of some kind in a much shorter space of time,” says Steve.

He says BACI has recognized there will always be an influx of people looking for services in the traditional day service model unless demand is addressed.

“We need to look at a way to stem the flow from schools straight into day services, the traditional model. If we could get engagement from young folks in schools with developmental disabilities towards employment, or at the very least . . . some kind of work experience to add to their résumés by the time they leave school, then that will increase their opportunities,” says Steve.

The idea for the project began 18 months ago. Facilitation started this summer while the four students in the pilot were on summer break.

Response from the school board was very positive, says Steve, noting BACI’s two partners have been “the driving force.”

CBI and BACI employment specialists worked with the students in eight self-determination sessions to determine likes, dislikes and ideas about employment.

“That also gave them an opportunity to make a decision about the kind of presentation they wanted to bring to their school reviews at the end of the year,” says Steve.

The students were to be able to deliver presentations “and have everybody on board when they’re clearly stating ‘employment is my key focus,’ and have everybody support them.”

The goal will be for all four students to have paid employment or at the very least some job experience to put on a résumé.

The pilot is half completed, and he hopes that Community Living B.C. will see the value of the project and bring support into the schools to see young people establish “some real goals around employment.”

To comment on this story, or to share your employment success stories, contact Deb at 800-294-0051 ext. 30 or e-mail deb(at)



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