Ottawa, Ontario — How inclusive is your workplace?
On June 8, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) held the Apprentices with Disabilities webinar, where attendees were invited to learn about challenges those with disabilities face as apprentices and resources that may help them. Panellist Emily Arrowsmith, project manager and researcher at CAF presented participants with statistics gathered from a recent survey of apprentices in Canada.
The study found that seven percent of apprentices are working with a disability and that 5.1 percent of apprentices changed their disability status between the time of registration and time of survey with the majority of people believing that they developed one between that time.
Arrowsmith, on behalf of CAF, urged workplaces to provide accommodations for those employees with disabilities. The workplace accommodations for persons with disabilities in the skilled trades report states there are both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ accommodations that one may choose to implement if needed.
A hard accommodation might be a physical alteration to a workplace (like an elevator or a ramp) or to equipment (like a specialty creeper designed to support the body while accessing engine compartments).
A soft accommodation might mean allowing for a flexible schedule, so the individual can attend treatment.
Another area of concern was accessing academic resources while apprentices complete the in-class portion of their schooling.
“A lack of awareness around learning supports and how to access them was also identified in our research,” said Arrowsmith. “Since apprentices spend most of their time on the job – they’re only at the college for a short period of time, they might struggle within that short period to identify how to access accommodations.”
During the forum, speakers and participants highlighted a few specific resources available at certain colleges.
Confederation College’s Student Accessibility Services provides support for apprenticeship students who may have had an Individual Educational Plan in high school, have a diagnosed disability, or are experiencing academic difficulties due to a temporary disability, including episodic mental health disabilities.
Resources at Confederation College include referrals for psychoeducational assessments and on-campus assessments. Note-taking services as well as access to software and devices such as the C-Pen and various text-to-voice programs.
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum says that there is an opportunity to potentially enhance
the effectiveness of apprentices at the workplace by making accommodations, and burgers employers and educators to do so.
For more information visit https://caf-fca.org/