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Penticton, B.C. company encourages other employers to hire inclusively too

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Penticton company encourages employers to hire inclusively
WATCH: With the ongoing labour shortage across the province, a Penticton company is encouraging other employers to hire inclusively just as they have. Too often people with disabilities are overlooked for employment opportunities. – Feb 9, 2023

With an ongoing labour shortage across B.C., a Penticton company is encouraging other employers to hire inclusively just as they have.

Lynden Hicks and Taylor Shea are both model employees at Brutus Truck Bodies. The pair who both live with disabilities were hired by the company a few years ago.

“I see the struggle that every company has right now with hiring people and sometimes maybe we’re just not looking in the right spot,” said Brutus Truck Bodies’ Fabrication manager James Bernique.

“When I found these two, well actually Lynden started quite a while ago as a part-time job, and then I met Taylor on the bowling team. It just clicked that maybe we could find a spot for them here.

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Hicks began helping out around the company part-time, and now operates the company’s band saw full-time.

“When I first started here, I was the cleanup man and then I got hired on — a full-time job from James and now I am working full time on the saw,” said Hicks.

“I was quite nervous when I first started but after a while, I got the hang of it and I’ve gotten to know all the guys around the shop. So, it’s really good.”

Meanwhile, Shea does custodial work and various other duties around the manufacturing plant.

“Cleaning, garbages, I do a bit of everything around here. Making parts, notching, I do a bit of everything around here, almost everything of course,” said Shea.

“Back in 2017 [my boss and I] were on the same team for bowling, and he gave me this job for a good reason, to show me what I got.”
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According to the company, both employees have excelled in their positions.

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“They both when they first started were very, very shy individuals who wouldn’t talk to anyone. They didn’t know their place in life. It’s like most people until we find our stuff, it’s a scary world out there,” said Bernique.

“But now they’re just wonderful. There isn’t a person around here that doesn’t love them or include them in everything. They laugh with us all the time, it’s just a great crew to have, great people, great kids.”

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For many people living with disabilities, it can be hard to find employment.

Penticton and District Society for Community Living (PDSCL) provides services that support people with disabilities through finding jobs and companies, like Brutus, through hiring inclusively.

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“The individuals that we support at Penticton and District Society for Community Living, to have them in your workplace gives purpose to people in their lives and that is so important. Their skill set is fantastic. And it’s a resource in the community that we encourage all employers to look at,” said PDSCL Day Services program coordinator Kathleen Estabrooks.

“It’s challenging for anybody to find work. If your social skills are not, you know, we so much emphasis is placed on a job interview. Sometimes it gets missed the potential of the employee through a job interview. There’s so much potential with the people that we support.”

Bernique echoed that other companies should be doing the same.

“First thing you have to do at any company is have patience and teaching. It might take a little extra but you get paid for it in the end. Because they’ve been here every day, they try their hardest, all they want to do is work just like everyone else,” said

“You got have to find the right niche in life, you got to find the right thing for everyone and once they have it you will be so happy. These kids make me so proud.”

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He went on to say that as the company grows, it will continue to hire inclusively.

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“It was only nine of us, now I think we’re up to 60, 70 people, we have six different plants,” said Bernique. “We just keep growing and we’re going to look for more again diverse hires.”

Meanwhile, PDSCL plans to set up two tables at the upcoming job fair in Penticton as an opportunity for employers to gather more information about the society’s services.

“We will have both a table for folks looking for work in the community and also a table with our Supportive Employment Program for employers who are looking for an opportunity like this,” said Estabrooks.

“Any employee wanting to explore this opportunity more, come down and see. We’ll have a table and there will be people there who want to talk about their experiences.”

The job fair is happening at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on March 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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