Dave: Hi, this is Dave Arnold. Welcome to Talk to the Experts. Special guest in the studio, Prairie Regional Manager for Neil Squire Society, Nikki Langdon. Nikki, as always, great to have you in the studio, thank you.
Nikki: Thanks Dave. So nice to see you.
Dave: Also here is Robert, business owner in the city of Regina who has an employee who he found through the Neil Squire Society, and we also have that employee in the studio with us, Mark. Mark, thanks for being with us through the break here.
Mark: Thanks for having me.
Dave: Nikki, maybe tell us a bit about Neil Squire Society.
Nikki: The Neil Squire is a national non profit organization and essentially what we’re all about is connecting employers with qualified employees who happen to have a disability or barrier. That’s so second. It’s about connecting people to employment that’s going to be fulfilling, meet the employer’s needs, meet the employee’s needs and the employee happen to have a disability or a barrier to employment.
Dave: Mark, tell me a bit about your experience with the Neil Squire Society when you kind of first made that decision that you know, ‘I’m going to touch base, I’m going to give them a call.’ What was the process like for you?
Mark: Painless. Basically went in for an interview, more or less, I talked with one of their representatives.
Nikki: Job Developer, yeah. Case Manager, yeah.
Mark: I talked with one of their Case Managers and he was actually a very laid back guy on his own, right. I was not excepting that. I thought these guys would be, you know, very uptight, very strict and he was very laid back, and very casual about the whole process, about how he would question me and about how to try to figure out what it was I needed from them. He made it very painless. The way that they approached the questions, the way that they just made sure that you feel comfortable too, the whole time, which was nice.
Dave: It would seem to me, you know, someone who has a disability, whether it’s visible or invisible or has some sort of barrier from employment. There’s got to be a little bit of nervousness, there’s got to be a little bit of being a little uncomfortable, kind of going in for that and there has to be a certain level of sensitivity, doesn’t there?
Mark: Exactly, yeah. Well, it’s putting yourself out there in a way you usually don’t with other people, right. It’s something you wouldn’t bring up in a casual conversation or you know, you wouldn’t just have somebody approach you about it but with the way that they handle it, it doesn’t feel out of place. It actually felt very natural and it was actually really big for me. You know, it didn’t make me feel awkward, I guess, or weird, you know.
Dave: A lot of hoops to jump through? A lot of paperwork?
Mark: No, none of that actually, and that was the other thing too was, quite painless. They asked me some very standard questions and kind of looked into my past a little bit, asked me what I thought of what was holding me back. Is this a barrier to you, right, specifically? And so that was, they found out a little more than most people would in that line of questioning, I think, as to maybe how it affects me compared to somebody else with the same thing. That was pretty big for me.
Dave: How long did the whole thing take from start to finish until you were ready to go?
Robert: A week and a half.
Mark: Maybe a week, a week and a half. It was very, very, very short. It was very surprising.
Dave: Robert, Mark’s used the word ‘painless’ twice.
Robert: Oh yeah, it was awesome. You know, as the owner of RescueTECH in Regina, you’re always dealing with paperwork, you’re dealing with different things, taxation things, regulations, licensing issues. Any business owner knows how much of a headache that is, and when I first heard about this program, I thought, oh my, another three weeks, six-month process to wait for this and that and it’s not just worth my time. It was really painless; I was quite surprised. Just some forms to sign, paperwork review, a few conversations on the phone. I think of my actual time outlay. Maybe twenty minutes.
Dave: Twenty minutes?
Robert: Maybe twenty minutes. As a business owner, if you were to add it all up with regard to telephone conversations, reviewing paperwork and stuff like that, which, you know… That I think, really sold it for me, and, yeah, it just allows me to do more work in my business and less work dealing with bureaucratic stuff.
Dave: Which is the hope of any business.
Robert: Yeah, exactly. Absolutely.
Nikki: And that’s the plan. That’s exactly, I’m so happy to hear that because that’s the plan. Because we don’t want to make it arduous. We want to make it easy so our clients get the opportunities they deserve, and we want to make it as easy as possible, so we do as much on our end and make the labor part heavy on our end, so our employers and the employees can benefit. And I’m really happy, Mark, that you see and you commented on how we really try to be client centered. It’s all about where the client is and what the client wants. It isn’t about what we want. It isn’t about our opinion. It is your opinion. It is your life, and the thing with you, Robert, your needs.
Robert: And one thing I want to add, Dave. I didn’t even have to leave the office.
Robert: They came to me.
Nikki: We go to you.
Robert: Like paperwork, stuff like that. I just continued doing whatever I needed to do in my business and got everything done by email, telephone.
Dave: That’s phenomenal.
Robert: Yeah, it is.
Dave: And that’s the way that it’s supposed to be.
Nikki: Absolutely. It’s not about making a big work project. It’s about easing and connecting and facilitating. So we’ve taken the work part onto our end because this is what a success is, but if we had made it so difficult for Robert or for Mark, I mean, nobody wants to engage in that. There is already so many levels of difficulty in life sometimes, we don’t want to add to it. We want to minimize it.
Dave: Nikki, I do want to touch on the job fair that is coming up. The Job Fair for people with disabilities coming up on April 6th for employers and potential employees as well. Let’s touch on that. Give us some of the details.
Nikki: Yes, there’s still booth space available so if you are interested and you need an employee, the same way Robert has shared, or anybody looking for anybody to hire now or in the future, just give us a call. You can setup a booth at the Job Fair and anybody who has a disability or barrier to employment, and I really want to speak to kids too. We are able to work with students 15 years old and up so if you want a summer job and you have a learning disability or a barrier or something, or struggle just a little bit, come on out. We can subsidize your wage as well. Come to the Job Fair. Come walk around, see who’s there, what’s going on. We have a couple of pre job fair prep workshops. They’re free. One is March 30th. One is April 1st. You give us a call and it’s all about how do I put my best foot forward, and how do I maximize my experience of the Job Fair. We’re offering those free so you can prepare to do your best at the Job Fair. That’s for clients or employees as they go through the Job Fair.
Dave: Information. Best place to get it, at the website: neilsquire.ca. That’s neilsquire.ca. So Mark, you’ve been working with Robert now for a while. What’s it meant to you?
Robert: He’s actually an outstanding guy. He’s thoughtful but he’s also a hard worker. He knows what needs to get done in a day. It’s about making sure the customers are happy, and after that, whatever needs to be done is done, kind of thing, right? It’s not, there’s no pressure, I guess.
Mark: A lot less pressure than I’ve had in the past.
Dave: So what has it meant for you personally?
Mark: It means that I get to move forward with what I want to do with my life, you know, a little bit. I get to start making some headway and some progress. It’s not so much of a challenge any more, you know. It’s going to let me learn in a lot of new areas that I haven’t yet explored and that’s kind of huge.
Dave: Robert, it has got to be great to hear those words.
Robert: Oh, it’s awesome, and as an employer as well, it’s nice to hear that you can not only earn a living and grow and make money, blah, blah, blah. But you know, you want to also serve and contribute as well, and make a difference in people’s lives. And that’s how I’ve always kind of, that’s my philosophy in general. Knowing that in just my day and in my life, I can actually give someone an opportunity that really doesn’t cost me a lot of my time. Some time, yes, and some effort and some energy and maybe some money, but that’s what life really is about for me, is actually seeing others grow and serving others and all that kind of good stuff.
Dave: And that growth is potentially life changing.
Robert: Exactly, yeah. I think it’s a win win for everybody involved so that’s one of the things I really enjoy about this program and having Mark work in the office, and in general, what I do, it’s my philosophy to business and service as well. So, you know.
Dave: Nikki, this is the way it’s supposed to be.
Nikki: This is the way it’s supposed to be and how lucky am I to get to sit in the middle, literally in the middle, and figuratively in the middle. How lucky am I?
Dave: A reminder again about the Job Fair. It’s coming up April 6th. Job Fair for people with disabilities. If you’re an employer, you can still be a part of this. Go to the web site, neilsquire.ca
Dave: Go to the website, neilsquire.ca I guess just as we wrap up, Nikki, is there one kind of common misconception about what you do?
Nikki: The misconception that we get, one of the misconceptions is that we buy people jobs. We do not buy people jobs. You can see how very qualified Mark is. We help people with the qualifications the employer needs to connect them to that employer. This isn’t about making up work, making up jobs. This is connecting qualified wonderful, dedicated people to employers who need them.
Dave: Guys, thank for coming in. It’s such a pleasure chatting with you.
Robert: Yeah, thank you Dave.
Dave: Nikki Langdon, Prairie Regional Manager with Neil Squire Society. Robert, small business owner, and Mark, employee. Thanks very much guys. Thank you for listening. More information, again — neilsquire.ca This is Dave Arnold, thanks for listening. We’ll catch you next time round.
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