Picture of Kerry at Life of Pie

Innovative employers are hiring students with disabilities: Easy as pie

Inclusive employer Kerry Duffy, owner of renowned Ottawa scratch bakery and café Life of Pie, found hiring a Life After School high school co-op student with a disability as easy as pie. In fact, she hired two.

The Life After School pilot project, whose first chapter came to a successful conclusion in March 2019, supports high school students with a disability as they earn their first co-op jobs and invaluable work experience with accessible-friendly employers across Ontario.

The Life After School pilot project innovatively connected high school students with a disability with employers for their first co-op job and experiential learning opportunity. Inclusive employers like Kerry at Life of Pie and over 35 other employers, working with six pilot high schools in Ottawa, Toronto and London, were key to unlocking these opportunities for students.

Recognizing the advantages of hiring students with disabilities, employers like Kerry Duffy at Life of Pie in Ottawa are shaking up the way employers see disability. Kerry is just one of the 35 Ontario employers engaged with the pilot who are happy with their staffing outcomes.  Speaking about her latest student hire, Kerry noted her new prep-cook was “personable and she loves chopping and cooking.”

The Life After School pilot is a collaborative project launched by Canadian Business SenseAbility and the Abilities Centre. Students complete online skills challenges through an innovative platform that demonstrates to employers that students have the skills needed for the position. When students earn the required skills badges they’re guaranteed a job interview – just like the two students who successfully prepped, interviewed and were hired by Kerry.

The platform’s innovative digital approach ensures that students with disabilities don’t need to rely on a résumé. This is a real bonus for youth with disabilities who often don’t get work experience as early in life as their peers.

The Life After School platform is designed to overcome this systemic barrier and level the playing field. Employers who embrace a disability-friendly outlook benefit by gaining access to a pipeline of job-ready, talented students who have proven skills.

Kudos to employers, including Sobeys, Canadian Tire, Pet Valu, Lowes and GoodLife Fitness, in Ottawa, London and Toronto who stepped up to provide co-op placements for students preparing for these life-changing opportunities.

As Kerry would say, these outcomes were sweet as pie!

For more information on the Life After School program for high school or college students, visit Canadian Business SenseAbility’s page, Life After School.