As British Columbia businesses grapple with a labor shortage, a Vancouver-based charity believes it has part of the solution.

Mission Possible says that many employers are depriving themselves of good workers through unconscious biases and stigma around poverty, mental illness, disability, and neurodiversity.

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The organization, which helps people who have experienced homelessness or other major life challenges return to the workforce, now prepared a hiring guide help employers make use of a relatively wasted workforce.

“There are thousands of companies looking for unskilled labor, not something that requires certification or a lot of education, but they can’t find the right people, and many times that is because they are not looking in the right place. ”Said Matthew Smedley, CEO and CEO of Mission Possible.

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“If they are able to think outside the box and think about how they can do inclusive hiring, how can they hire people who may have some barriers to employment, people who may have some diverse skills, who may struggle with a disability, those People have a lot of skills, they have a lot of skills that they can offer to any business, so they really recognize it. “

Participants in Mission Possible have access to coaching, skills training and other supports, and can get six months of paid work with the charity’s social enterprises to build skills and confidence.

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Steve Silvaggio, who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, is among its enthusiastic participants.

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“Mentally it has helped me a lot. Working part time has really been very good for my mental health, ”he said.

Through the program, Silvaggio has learned pressure washing, graffiti removal, landscaping and painting, among other skills.

“All the support, whether it’s for resumes, cover letters, job opportunities, is a good place to start,” he added.

“It makes me feel good. I feel energetic, positive.”

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Vancouver’s Tacofino restaurant, which has made diversity a cornerstone of its hiring process, has attracted workers from Mission Possible and a Vancouver Community College program that provides cooking training to adults with cognitive disabilities.

Director of Personnel and Engagement Taylor Chibotiuk said some of those various hires have been the most stable and engaged employees on the payroll, while creating an environment that benefits everyone.

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“We have benefited enormously, because our culture is better with it,” he said. “We have had people on our team for a long period of time.

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“The more diverse backgrounds, characteristics and ways of thinking that you have on your team, establishes a workplace culture in which people are comfortable being who they are as human beings … and also contributes to higher levels. high participation “.

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According to Statistics Canada’s latest workforce survey released on Friday, British Columbia had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada, at 5.9 percent, one point below the national average.

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