George Quarcoo is an intern at CNIB Foundation and is part of the non-profit’s new Come to Work program. The program aims to pair blind or visually impaired job seekers with employers.
The North York resident, who lost the majority of his vision when he was nine, wants to take his passion about robotics and apply it in the aerospace engineering field.
“I always wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, but since I lost my vision I can’t do anything,” the 23-year-old said. “I can’t get into it per se, but I can do things related to it like programming.”
Today, Quarcoo is laying down the foundation for his future by joining the Canadian National Institute for the Blind Foundation’s new Come to Work program.
The program connects the blind or partially sighted with employers, and through it Quarcoo has landed an internship with the charity.
Quarcoo said finding work “as a vision-impaired person is very hard.”
“In my opinion, with work you have to look at the experience, the skills and what that person can bring to the table, and not their physical appearance or disability,” he said. “I feel like Come to Work will break down barriers by having these partnerships with these companies or teaching companies about having an open mind about the visually impaired community as a whole.”
CNIB, which supports Canadians who are blind or visually impaired, wants to boost the number of visually impaired employees in Canada, said Wayne Henshall, manager of career support program and impact evaluation at CNIB Foundation.
With Come to Work, CNIB offers job seekers job-readiness workshops, technology training and mentors. It has also partnered with employers to create full-time and part-time jobs, contract work and paid internships and returnships.
Through the program, employers are exposed to a talent pool containing candidates like Quarcoo. Job seekers of all experience levels can submit their resume and an application letter to the pool online.
“How we’re approaching this is I’m going to engage with a partner organization, I’m going to talk about their business, their opportunity, what they’re needing and, based on those needs, we’re going to look at where does it match up potentially to the talent pool,” Henshall said. “Or if there isn’t a match at this time, maybe they can still provide that mentoring capability.”
One of the organizations CNIB has partnered with is Deloitte. The company took on one of the talent pool members as an intern who later had their contract extended.
Geetika Issar, Deloitte’s national recruitment lead, said the hire has “changed our people.”
“We were able to learn a lot from her and the onboarding process,” she said. “We’ve come together with her, as well, as a broader team to see how we can solve internal onboarding issues, as well as to make our environment more inclusive and accommodating.”
In the month since Quarcoo joined Come to Work, he said it’s been a positive experience.
“We had the launch (Nov. 22), and through that I made so many connections,” he said. “I feel that’s the kind of exposure people living with sight loss need.”
For more information, Visit www.cometowork.ca