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Survey explores barriers to employment for marginalized communities

New research study seeks to address employment barriers in rural B.C. areas
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“We’re looking to improve employment outcomes for underrepresented groups.”says Megan te Boekhorst, project manager at Free Rein Associates. Photo courtesy of Free Rein Associates.

A significant survey is under way to probe the complexities faced by marginalized people in the B.C. job market, particularly those outside major centres.

Conducted by Free Rein Associates, an employment and community development agency focused on supporting rural communities, the research aims to explore the underlying reasons why marginalized people are more likely to experience employment instability.

“We’re looking to improve employment outcomes for underrepresented groups. To support this, we need about 10 minutes of people’s time to complete the survey,” says Megan te Boekhorst, project manager at Free Rein Associates.

Focusing on five rural B.C. communities – Hope, Ashcroft, Princeton, Merritt and Agassiz – the research targets specific demographic slices, including Indigenous peoples and those with disabling conditions ranging from learning and mental health challenges to cognitive impairments.

“We’re looking to hear from those who self-identify – whether job seekers or currently employed – in all marginalized communities,” te Boekhorst says.

“Working in urban centres, where the population and resources are more concentrated, doesn’t always work in rural settings,” te Boekhorst explains.

This initiative is designed to develop and enhance strategies to the rural context, tailoring support systems to be more effective for these communities.

Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, the project will culminate in a series of recommendations aimed at improving legislation and training to support undeserved communities.

“We plan to submit a report to our funder and hope it will help improve the systems in place. Moreover, we’re excited about producing a podcast to convey what we’re learning directly to employers and stakeholders,” te Boekhorst says.

The survey asks respondents if they’re a job seeker, employer or employee, and whether their community is accurately represented in their workplace, te Boekhorst explains.

It also delves into the hiring and employment maintenance process, seeking to understand the mismatch between being employed and the realities faced by employees from marginalized backgrounds.

An example provided by te Boekhorst illustrates the cultural disparities that can impact employment: “In Indigenous communities, grieving for a lost one might take a week, whereas in Western communities, workplaces might only give a day off. Such differences can lead to employment issues, especially during probationary periods,” she says.

The questions asked in the survey have ongoing relevance and the goal is to mediate these ongoing issues.

“We can’t improve if we don’t get feedback from the communities. We appreciate all feedback – it really helps in the long run,” te Boekhorst says.

For more information and to complete the survey, visit freereinassociates.ca/every-disability.