Opening doors to talent with sight loss
The CNIB Foundation's Come to Work program connects job seekers who are blind or partially sighted with employers who want to discover the full potential of Canada's talent.
To boost participation in the world of work, we are:
- offering job-readiness workshops and technology training;
- partnering with employers to create full-time, part-time and contract work, and paid internships/returnships;
- fostering professional development through innovative mentorships
- and, enhancing company culture to provide a competitive edge.
To become a partner, volunteer as a mentor, or join our talent pool, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-563-2642.
Together, we're creating a Canada where everyone can come to work!
CNIB Come to Work Program – 2020/21 Update
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Canadian labour market, with more than 5.5 million workers experiencing job loss or reduced hours from February to April, according to the April Labour Force Survey (LFS). The most recent LFS release shows the gradual reopening of the economy led to a rebound in employment in May and June. The evolution of the COVID-19 shutdown has resulted in a wide range of employment changes and challenges. This impact has also been felt by persons with long-term conditions or disabilities who, under normal economic conditions, have lower rates of employment than those without disabilities. Among LFS participants aged 15 to 64 with a long-term condition or disability, two-thirds (66%) reported being employed prior to the start of the pandemic, while 55% reported being currently employed.
Since March 2020, more than one third (36 per cent) of our participants who have been employed have reported job loss (temporary or permanent), or reduced hours. As a result, our talent pool has increased 90 per cent.
We have more than 750 talent pool members at varying stages of the employment journey, compared to 400 talent pool members on March 31, 2020. With 240 of them employment ready, 140 have secured full-time, part-time and contract work, or paid internships/returnships in a variety of sectors, including account management, customer service, education, financial services, health services, human resources, information technology and retail sales. As part of the venture pool, we have 60 entrepreneurs – including authors, artists, bakers, musicians – who are delivering innovative products and services. As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 16-22, 2020), we highlighted some of them. Read some of their stories.
We're collaborating with 40 partners, including: Apple, BMO, The Brick, Canadian Tire, CBC, City of London, City of Toronto, Coop Coco, Deloitte, Digital Main Street, Export Development Canada, EQ Care, eSight, Government of Canada, HSBC, IBM, Lazarus Bleu Inc., LawyersinHouse.com, Lenovo, Marriott–Sarnia, Meridian, Microsoft, Moneris, Myplanet, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Tech University, Randstad, RBC, Rogers, Scotiabank, Shopify, Sobeys, Societie du Transport Montreal, Sodexo, Spark Niagara, St-Hubert, TD, Ville de Montreal, Waterloo Brewing Company, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario and York Region District School Board. We have also connected with nearly 330 potential partners.
Currently, we are consulting with more than 35 vocational providers (e.g., Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services, Spinal Cord Injury, NSCC Career Services etc.) to enhance accessibility within their employment programs and services.
We are also working with multiple Business Improvement Associations (BIA's) and/or Chambers of Commerce (CoC) to tap into their membership to connect talent pool members with small and medium-sized businesses for employment and mentorship opportunities. While this sector has been negatively impacted the COVID-19 pandemic, we are keeping the lines of communication open to position us for growth in the future.
That said, we have been successful in securing LawyersinHouse.com who are mentoring three talent pool members and delivering power sessions (e.g., workshops) for talent pool members and venture pool participants. Lazarus Bleu Inc., a marketing agency, is planning to hire five members of the talent pool and Waterloo Brewing has participated in networking events.
The Government of Canada has invested $1 million in the program to connect Canadians who are blind or partially sighted with small and medium-sized enterprises. Thanks to this funding, the team is working with the Business Improvement Associations and Chambers of Commerce to raise awareness about accessibility and inclusion. The federal funding has also enabled us to expand our support and allocate resources to provide necessary skill development opportunities (e.g., expanded technology training and virtual social/networking skills for talent pool members) due to the pandemic. We also leveraging the funding to update the International Levels of Employment Study to determine how the COVID-19 has impacted employment levels for people with sight loss.
With support from the Government of Canada, CNIB launched a public awareness campaign to promote Come to Work during National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, reaching more than 1 million Canadians via social media. Throughout the month, we also shared success stories of talent pool members, as well as powerful testimonials from our mentors. Also, an op-ed by Jennifer MacNeil, an employment lead with CNIB, was published in the Toronto Star and Hamilton Spectator.
In response to COVID-19, we transformed our annual in-person Connecting the Dots conferences into virtual offerings. More than 865 registrants, including some of our Come to Work partners, actively participated in the English and French events. As part of the conference, we welcomed 200 guests, including HR professionals and employers, Come to Work partners and members of our talent pool, to a virtual networking reception. Thanks to the event, we secured an agreement from our partners to host quarterly networking receptions for our talent pool members.
Mentoring provides participants with the opportunity to grow, learn and accomplish goals together. Out mentees are learning about office etiquette; teamwork; networking; presentation skills; listening skills; giving and receiving feedback and effective communication. As of December 31, 2020, we have 80 active mentorships.
A year ago, we couldn't have predicted how a pandemic would impact the world of work, but we are committed to ensuring no one is left behind. With more people working from home, we anticipate the remote model will enable more talent pool members to pursue full-time, part-time, contract work and paid internships/”returnships” in the future, as it eliminates transportation barriers and employees have more options for where they live. We are hopeful that the work-from-home model will open more doors and help level the playing field for talent with sight loss across Canada.
Prior to the launch of Bold Dreams, Bright Futures (CNIB's strategic plan for 2018-2022), we spoke with thousands of Canadians impacted by blindness and 91 per cent of them told us employment levels are a serious problem facing people with sight loss in Canada. With an unemployment rate of 14.5 per cent (triple Canada's general unemployment rate) for Canadians with sight loss, we must do everything we can to address this serious issue facing the people we serve and position our country for economic growth. Together, we can shift the employment landscape in Canada!