Access to Success: A Guide for Employers

Champions Career Centre: An Overview

By Melissa Trono, Information Resources Manager

(Champions Career Centre is made possible by funding through Alberta Human Resources and Employment and the Government of Canada).

Champions Career Centre (CCC) is an innovative, tri-sector partnership of non-profit disability organizations, government agencies and major Alberta companies committed to advancing the workforce participation of persons with disabilities. Based in Calgary, Champions was designed to support and not duplicate the rehabilitation programs of its partnering agencies. While partners have different perspectives and bring unique and distinctive resources to the partnership, they share a common goal: to facilitate and integrate people with disabilities into today’s workplace. Champions and its partners are solely focused on helping individuals with disabilities prepare to find employment, further their education, and fulfil their career goals. Champions provides comprehensive, integrated, coordinated services.

CCC services include: individualized assessment, collaborative employment Action Plan, resource centre, career planning, acquisition of employability and employment skills through individual and workshop formats, supported job search, employment placement, education/training placement, and community support services. Follow-up support is maintained through monthly contact over a 180-day period with additional job coaching, personal support, adaptive technology or Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) as required. The Case Management model is applied to all stages of the service delivery to ensure timely and individualized response to client need. People may access CCC services both informally and formally. Informally, or in a self-directed manner, people may use the computer lab and library resources or sign-up for a workshop. Formally, or for those who want to work directly with a Client Services Coordinator or Job Developer, attendance at an Orientation Session (scheduled each Tuesday) is required to begin the CCC process. Orientation materials are available in alternate formats such as Braille and large-print. Interpreters for deaf clients are scheduled upon request.

An extensive interview is conducted by the Intake Coordinator following the orientation. This assists in determining CCC eligibility with questions regarding: the nature of the disability, interests, education, transferable skills, and motivation. Previous job placement interventions and identified barriers to employment lead to an observation if the client is “Ready, Willing and Able” to successfully enter the job market. Clients deemed ineligible are referred to appropriate external resources and encouraged to access CCC at a later time.

Eligible clients then proceed to working collaboratively with a Client Services Coordinator (CSC). Through a Workability Assessment, the client’s employment needs are identified. This information becomes the foundation for the development of the Action Plan. The CSC and client interact as the ‘hub of the wheel’, facilitating access to resources which address the identified client needs. Qualified and proven service provider agencies act as ‘spokes of the wheel’ to present the best available combination of community skill and experience to meet specific needs. Information is coordinated by the CSC to ensure that the highest quality of service and outcomes are achieved. Client satisfaction measurements are taken at service completion to ensure the highest level of quality and service.

Once employment and employability skills are acquired, the person with a disability is equipped to enter into Supported Job Search. CCC Job Developers (JDs) have the prime objective to assist clients to secure full or part-time sustainable employment. They actively market the clients to employers, research opportunities, maintain current job market information, and provide knowledgeable feedback on job search activities. The JDs meet regularly and systematically with clients to schedule individual and group sessions, provide job leads, and facilitate discussion to generate job-seeking strategies. They facilitate the matching of skills and interests to employment positions.

For those applicants with disabilities whose limitations prevent participation in the main stream Supported Job Search program, service providers provide the Supported Job Search on an individual basis. Identical expectations for job leads, feedback, support, placement and follow-up are held, but activities are monitored by the CSC through bi-weekly reports, with client satisfaction surveys completed at the end of service.

Upon placement, CCC creates a systematic schedule of follow-up dates for contact with both the client and employer. The first contact occurs on the second day of employment to ensure mutual satisfaction. Concurrently, DRES program supports are discussed and activated to ensure timely response should adaptive technology and/or worksite modifications be required. Second contacts occur following one-week of employment, at which time a formal interview based on a CCC-designed set of questions documents placement satisfaction and progress. Thereafter, the client and employer are contacted on a monthly basis.

If at any time during or following the employment placement, issues require individual job coaching or support intervention, the CSC accesses the external resources necessary to ensure continued job placement success. During the 180-day follow-up period, should the job placement be deemed unsuitable or the client is unable to continue, CCC resumes active Supported Job Search activities with the client. The acceptable outcome remains appropriate long-term employment.

Champions Career Centre Job Development: “Connecting Employers and People with Disabilities”

Today the challenges and opportunities of the job developer are greater than ever and the need for these services is felt more acutely than ever by those we serve. Never has there been a greater need for job developers to take an intelligent, business-minded, proactive and revolutionary approach to creating employment opportunities in the Calgary area.

The Champions Career Centre (CCC) Job Development Team believes that people who access our services are ready, willing and able to work and should be seen as potential applicants for job vacancies that become available in their chosen fields.

No longer is a company or organization contacted for only a job placement. Instead, CCC must have something valuable to offer. CCC seeks to establish ongoing and mutually beneficial partnerships with those with whom we work.

The Job Development (JD) Team has very much evolved over the past year. With each change, the merge of traditional and non-traditional job development techniques has improved the services available to job seekers with disabilities associated with CCC programs and services.

The JD Team provides regular opportunities to reconnect with all applicants who access CCC services. ‘Client Sessions’ are organized to have small groups of applicants meet each other, discuss and receive feedback on job development strategies, review individual job targets and articulate mutual responsibilities between the Job Developers and the client. Applicants are excited about getting together, learning from each other, and being part of future directions. CCC’s own commitment to hiring people with disabilities enables staff to identify with what applicants experience in facing barriers to employment.

The job search process is clearly outlined to all applicants. So, each individual is active in the job search and has the support of the JD Team. Sharing resources, developing marketing strategies, looking for opportunities in non-traditional environments, and encouraging volunteerism are some examples of JD assistance. But it remains with the applicants to develop job placement and job retention skills to serve them over a lifetime. Applicants have a right to quality services at CCC. They also have a responsibility to their partnership with CCC.

Traditionally, Job Developers would be seen out and about, knocking on employers doors trying to convince them to hire job seekers with disabilities. To some degree, this is still practiced, but the Job Developers at CCC have taken a much different, more effective approach. The JD Team is promoting the organization as an agency which has qualified, educated, ready, willing and able applicants prepared to fill employment vacancies. Employers are now knocking on our door, since we are being considered as a valuable extension of their Human Resources Departments.

When a new employee is needed, CCC is in the forefront in assisting to fill the position with our candidates. It is the JD Team’s vision to develop a database of employers in the Calgary region that will match vacant positions and the perfect person for the job!

Services to employers include: pre-screening applicants, checking references, and ensuring a proper “fit” between employee and applicant. After placement, JDs are in constant communication with the employer and the successful applicant to ensure that everything is progressing smoothly. Open dialogue is encouraged and if there is a problem, the JD Team work together toward a solution. As well, the JD Team offers sensitivity training sessions to increase understanding about hiring job seekers with disabilities and to provide an opportunity to discuss any concerns. JDs can also assist employers in accessing information regarding workplace accommodation and any employment supports for the new employee if necessary.

Over the course of the next year, the JD Team will be evaluating the new strategies and approaches that have been implemented and assess their effectiveness to ensure that any changes are made in due time. The JD Team will concentrate on facilitating presentations on CCC to employers, service providers, and non-profit and government agencies. The Team will utilize career fairs, trade shows, and informational gatherings to successfully position CCC as an agency of choice for job seekers with disabilities in Calgary.

Employers are invited to engage in a partnership characterized by respectful and equal exchange of resources and opportunities. Our Web site has complete contact information for companies interested in our services.

Useful Resources

Please note that the full library holdings of the Champions Career Centre may be viewed on our Web site at: The following resources are offered by the Champions Career Centre as suggested readings for employers:

  • Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative Employer Toolkit, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, 1998.
  • Assessing Learning Difficulties in the Workplace, Bow Valley College, The University of Calgary and the Calgary Learning Centre, 2001. (CD-ROM)
  • Barrier-Free Employers: Practical Guide for Employment Accommodation for People with Disabilities, Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2001.
  • Changing Perspectives: A Resource for Hiring Persons with Disabilities, Employabilities, 2001. (1 video & CD-ROM)
  • Creating a Welcoming Workplace for Employees with Disabilities, Treasury Board of Canada, 2000.
  • Design for Success: An Employer’s Guide to Learning Disabilities, Eva Nichols, LDAO, 1994.
  • ‘Disability Friendly Strategies for the Workplace’, JTPR Workplace Connection, June 2003.
  • The Disability Handbook: A Guide to Understanding Individuals with Disabilities, EmployAbilities & CFNSA, 2002.
  • Diversity: A Strategy to Meet Your Need for Skilled Workers, AHRE, 2002.
  • Employ with Expertise: A Toolkit for Success in Hiring Individuals with a Disability, WORKink Alberta, 2002.
  • Employees who are Parents of Children with Disabilities: A Guide for Employers, The Roeher Institute, 1998.
  • An Employer’s Guide to Multiple Sclerosis in the Workplace, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, 1996.
  • Employers’ Viewpoint: Hiring Employees with an Intellectual Disability, The Roeher Institute.
  • Employment Accommodation Service, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, 2002.
  • Employment Series for Persons with Disabilities: Tips for Employers, Alberta Human Resources and Employment, 2000.
  • Epilepsy and Employment: A Guide for Employers and Employees, Epilepsy Association of Calgary.
  • Hiring Someone with an Intellectual Disability: A Tool Kit for Employers, Canadian Association for Community Living.
  • Listen Up! Hiring a Deaf Employee can be Rewarding, On Site Placement Services Association, 2002.
  • A Manager’s Guide to Employing Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities, Ministry of Supply and Services Canada, 1995.
  • Nobody’s Perfect… An Employer’s Introduction to Learning Disabilities, Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, 1994.
  • A Place for All: A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace, Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2001.
  • Policy on the Provision of Accommodation for Employees with Disabilities, Treasury Board of Canada, 1999.
  • Tapping the Talents of People with Disabilities: A Guide for Employers, Conference Board of Canada, 2001.
  • Think About It! Hiring an Employee with a Mental Health Issue or Illness can be Rewarding, On Site Placement Services Association, 2002.
  • A Way with Words: Guidelines and Appropriate Terminology for the Portrayal of Persons with Disabilities, Office for Disability Issues, Human Resources Development Canada, 1998.
  • Working Well: An Employer’s Guide to Hiring and Retaining People with Mental Illness, Agnes Vandergang, Canadian Mental Health Association, 2002.
  • Working with Hearing Loss: A Guide for Employees, Employers and Entrepreneurs, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, 2000.
  • Workplace Accommodation Survey, The Roeher Institute.

(The above list is current at June 2003)

For those interested in more information about Champions Career Centre, please call (403) 265-5374; (403)265-5309 (TTY), visit, or email: