The David C. Onley Initiative for Employment and Enterprise Development, led by Carleton University, is a partnership of four postsecondary institutions in Ottawa to develop knowledge, resources, and tools to support students with disabilities in their employment readiness and career aspirations.

Background

Since 2012, Carleton’s READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility, and Design) has worked with campus and community partners to support accessibility and disability related activities at the University and beyond. The READ Initiative and the Paul Menton Centre proposed the David C. Onley Initiative to promote knowledge building and program development related to employability of postsecondary students with disabilities.

The mandate of the David C. Onley Initiative is to conduct applied research, and develop supports for postsecondary students with disabilities to advance their employability, with the following objectives:

  • Building capacity for ongoing student employment supports with dedicated staff and collaboration between Postsecondary Education (PSE) disability service offices and career offices, demonstrated through a partnership of four PSE institutions in Ottawa, as part of the Education City: Carleton University (project lead), University of Ottawa, La Cité Collégiale, and Algonquin College.
  • Commitment to advancing employment outcomes for students with disabilities (SWD) through applied research and program development, with the focus on outcomes, quality, and student success.
  • System-wide knowledge transfer of best practices to support SWD employment, through the dissemination of research, and sharing of evidence based tools, resources and knowledge by employers and postsecondary institutions across the province.
  • Increase in public awareness and visibility of issues related to employment of SWD by promoting the benefits and addressing barriers to influence a cultural change in PSE and employment sectors
  • Development of strategic regional partnerships and collaborations between employers, agencies, as well secondary and postsecondary institutions to advance employment outcomes for SWD.
  • Sustainability for the Initiative’s goals beyond the end of the project through continued services in PSE institutions, employer and business supports, partnerships to sustain long-term programming, funding strategies, and ongoing research and program evaluation.

Highlights

  • Hiring of Research & Development Officers within Disability and Career Services at the four partner institutions, including two dedicated to employability of students on the Autism Spectrum
  • Direct delivery of programs and services to increase the numbers of SWDs prepared for employment and connected with employers and job seeking services
  • Applied research and program development undertaken at partner institutions and coordinated by Carleton to define and impact best practices for employment and enterprise development of SWDs
  • Development and transfer of knowledge resources generated through applied research and project activities to local employers and PSE institutions across Ontario
  • Awareness building to address employment sector barriers to employment of SWDs and promote employability with direct services for secondary and postsecondary SWDs
  • Coordinated media campaign through multiple communication and media channels, featuring highly visible public figures and advocates for employment of SWDs
  • Outreach to the business sector and community employment services, and collaboration to support employability of SWDs post-graduation
  • Inter-ministerial government meetings and development of relationships to support employability of postsecondary SWDs prior to, during, and post-graduation.
  • Development of strategies to support long-term programing and funding sustainability