Creating a barrier-free community with equitable career training
As a progressive municipality, the City of Vaughan has a goal to foster a fully accessible community by 2025. This includes creating an inclusive workplace where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can thrive. The City recognizes people with disabilities continue to face challenges when looking for work, seeking workplace accommodations and trying to advance their careers – steps are being taken to break down these barriers by opening doors for new employment, offering training opportunities and supporting career growth. One example is through the City’s involvement with Project SEARCH.
Project SEARCH is an internationally successful transition-to-work program for students with developmental or intellectual disabilities. The program focuses on preparing students in their final year of high school who can benefit from personalized support in an intensive year of career development and internship experience.
Since launching in 1996, Project SEARCH has more than 650 sites worldwide, including six in Canada. Vaughan is the first municipality in York Region to be a host business for the program. The initiative is a proud partnership with the York Catholic District School Board and Community Living York South.
Here’s how the one-year program works: The school board provides a dedicated classroom teacher to deliver an employability skills curriculum, supports transit training in conjunction with York Region Transit and liaises with host business departments. The City provides mentorship, on-site training rooms and internship programs. Community Living York South provides skilled trainers to support interns in the training room and on the job during their internship rotations.
In September, eight students attended a class at Maple Community Centre to learn the employability skills curriculum. In October, the first internship opportunity began within the following City departments:
- Animal Services, By-law and Compliance, Licensing and Permit Services
- Facility Management
- Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
- Office of the City Clerk
- Parks, Forestry and Horticulture Operations
- Recreation Services
- Transportation and Fleet Management
The second set of work placements will take place from January to March 2023. A third round of internships will run from April to June 2023. Project SEARCH interns will graduate from the program in June 2023.
In recognition of the City’s progressive efforts, a special ceremonial presentation took place at today’s Council meeting. Project SEARCH is one of the many initiatives the City has undertaken to advance accessibility, promote diversity and foster an inclusive community.
To learn more about the City’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, visit vaughan.ca/DEI.
“The City of Vaughan is committed to building a community where everyone can thrive. Our goal is to foster an equitable, inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all abilities and backgrounds. We are proud to host Project SEARCH because we understand the value of this transition-to-work program and its positive impacts on the participants’ lives. I want to thank our valued partners from York Catholic District School Board and Community Living York South for their dedicated efforts to advance this meaningful initiative.”
- Mayor Steven Del Duca
“The City of Vaughan continues to champion inclusivity, both in the community and in the workplace. Participating in programs such as Project SEARCH helps us achieve this. Vaughan is honoured to be the first host business for this program in York Region and I applaud the City’s Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer for spearheading this initiative. I also want to recognize the various teams across the organization for furthering their commitment to adopting inclusive practices. You all are making a lasting difference. I look forward to implementing more programs like this in the future.”
- City Manager, Nick Spensieri
- Project SEARCH is an internationally successful transition-to-work model for young students with developmental or intellectual disabilities.
- The City of Vaughan is the first municipality in York Region to be a host business providing a training room, mentors and internships for the Project SEARCH interns.
- To bring this program to York Region, the City of Vaughan worked in partnership with the York Catholic District School Board and Community Living York South.
- Various departments within the City of Vaughan have provided internship opportunities to allow for career exploration and training. They include Animal Services, By-law and Compliance, Licensing and Permit Services, Facility Management, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Office of the City Clerk, Parks, Forestry and Horticulture Operations, Recreational Services, and Transportation and Fleet Management.
- The one-year pilot program began on Sept. 1, 2022 and will conclude on June 31, 2023.
- June 21, 2022, Committee of the Whole (2) Report: Project SEARCH – employment for person with different abilities
- The City of Vaughan’s diversity, equity and inclusion webpage: vaughan.ca/DEI.