Better Winnipeg: Employment agency focuses on diversity

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Better Winnipeg: Employment agency focuses on diversity
WATCH: Connect Employment Services has been providing employment options to people with intellectual disabilities for 25 years. Global's Eva Kovacs showcases the organization in Better Winnipeg. – Oct 19, 2017

Better Winnipeg is a regular feature that highlights people, events and organizations that make Winnipeg a great place to live. If you have a story idea send an email to

Winnipeg based Connect Employment Services is celebrating 25 years of helping individuals with an intellectual disability find work.

The non-profit agency supports almost 200 individuals compared to 10 people when it was established.

“Families were really interested in wanting to have positive community options for their adult sons or daughters once they left school. At that time there weren’t a lot of community based organizations,” said Krista Bissett, CEO of Connect Employment Services.

The agency offers a range of services that includes training support and finding a job placement.

Jonathan Burton started out on a job placement at Workers Compensation Board 10 years ago. Today, he’s a permanent employee and loves his full-time job providing IT support services.

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“Doing something that I love, providing customer service and working in computers – It’s a win, win situation for me.” Burton said.

Workers Compensation Board has had a number of individuals on job placement from Connect Employment.

The partnership with the agency is one way the WCB puts its values of inclusion and diversity into action.

“It’s something I’d encourage any organization to take part in,” said Warren Preece, spokesperson for WCB.

“It’s really gratifying to be part of a program that unlocks such great human potential in people.”

Working with each individual client is one of the keys to Connect Employment’s success.

“What drives us in finding work for people is taking a look at an individual and finding out what do they want to do, what are their gifts and talents and we look for an opportunity that might match that,” Bissett said.

That right opportunity turned into a permanent job for Jocelyne Yanofsky. She’s been part of the team at New Directions for over three years.

“She’s got amazing skills for the position and she’s got a really dynamic personality that gives the office a lot of good energy,” Angie Conrad, Program Manager at New Directions said.

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Yanofsky has found more than a job in the clerical assistant position at New Directions.

“I enjoy it here and I like to make new friends,” said Yanofsky.

“Having Jocelyne in the workplace definitely demonstrates the ability to have someone with an intellectual disability as part of our workforce,” adds Conrad.

“It will present more opportunities than it will barriers. And the barriers aren’t often as insurmountable as one would think. That with a little support, the barriers become invisible very quickly and the person becomes just part of the workforce.”

A workforce that has experienced many success stories in the past 25 years. As Connect Employment looks ahead to the future, it’s CEO is excited about many more successes to come.

“It’s about doing what’s right for both parties and in the end when you do those great connections you have some great outcomes,” Bissett said.

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