High school students with disabilities are getting a chance to learn practical workplace skills at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The four-week program is aimed at making sure they have the skills they need to get a job once they graduate high school.
Introduction to Parts and Warehousing for People with Disabilities is run and developed by KPU instructors Mary Wilton and Bob Curtis.
“Most of the intakes have issues with confidence. They quite often are labelled as slow learners and some have broken homes with accompanying issues,” says Curtis. “Teachers usually ask me to get them ready for jobs, as the students are worried they will not be accepted in the workplace easily.”
The students, aged 16 and up, learn worker rights, customer relations, work ethics and expectations, phone manners and if Curtis feels they need it, bullying and how it can have an effect on them.
“I try not to focus on what they don't do - rather just keep feeding them information and attach values to the knowledge for the students to decide what is important.”
Over the course of two weeks, the students also learn safety in the workplace, usually a warehouse, and are also encouraged to think about a future career in trades. The other two weeks are spent in work experience.
Jeremy Diaz, a 16-year-old high school student, says it’s been educational and gives him hope for his future prospects.
“I want to make sure the job is safe and hopefully it helps with more job opportunities.”
Curtis says while the students aren’t keen on thinking about jobs when they first arrive, that changes by the end of the program.
“I generally will see their communication skills improved, they have a better level of confidence and if they do the work experience, they have some great satisfaction by finishing the program.”
Learn more about the Introduction to Parts and Warehousing for People with Disabilities.