College of New Caledonia Quesnel Job Education Training (JET) Program members are seen here honouring Orange Shirt Day in LeBourdais Park. PHOTO SUBMITTED

College of New Caledonia’s JET Program celebrates diverse abilities of all learners

The Quesnel program provides classroom and on-the-job training and helps remove barriers

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM). The College of New Caledonia (CNC) is a strong supporter of this annual campaign promoting employment inclusion for people with disabilities.

CNC’s Job Education Training (JET) Program in Quesnel provides learners with diverse abilities the opportunity to gain skills necessary to obtain and keep jobs through classroom learning and on-the-job training.

The program is designed to help learners with multiple barriers to learning, such as disabilities, mental health issues, low self-esteem or poor academic skills.

“JET consists of five courses designed to help learners explore and gain skills needed in today’s job market,” said Laura Hender, work placement co-ordinator of CNC’s JET program in Quesnel. “Students explore their skills and build awareness of how those skills relate to employability.

“Effective workplace communication is demonstrated and assessed in the classroom and through job placements. Developing personal and professional goals and creating strategies ensures every student has an action plan.”

Diversifying their employee profile improves workplace culture and increases a company’s ability to retain employees. It makes great business sense to hire people who represent Canada’s diverse employment culture.

“Customers appreciate businesses that provide equal opportunities to the citizens of their community,” said Hender. “People with diverse abilities often have to overcome many obstacles and this determination is an asset to any business. All people contribute to society and should be given the opportunity to be included.”

Hender says some employers may be apprehensive about hiring people with diverse abilities, as there is often a belief people with disabilities are neither capable nor reliable. In fact, people with diverse abilities possess many of the important skills needed to be productive employees, including reliability, dedication and loyalty.

“People with diverse abilities want to lead productive and meaningful lives in their community,” said Hender. “This untapped market will help alleviate the employment shortage. It will also help remind us that individual differences should be respected and that different does not mean deficit. Together, we believe that society can transform the stigma associated with people with different abilities.”

CNC’s JET Program offers a unique opportunity for businesses to offer a more diverse work force. Students volunteer at a business, under the supervision of the work placement co-ordinator. The co-ordinator assists with training and remains at the workplace until all parties are confident with the necessary skills and performance of the student. Work placements can be a few weeks up to a few months, depending on the employer.

“Help JET celebrate DEAM by working with CNC to raise awareness and break down the stigma associated with people with diverse abilities,” said Hender.

If your business is interested in offering students a volunteer work placement opportunity, please contact Laura Hender at 250-991-7500 ext. 7615 or email

— Submitted by College of New Caledonia

READ MORE: City of Quesnel recognized for being inclusive, diverse workplace

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