The CIBC Navigator Program has improved employment competencies and expanded co-operative learning opportunities for students with disabilities.
Since its launch in Spring 2020, the CIBC Navigator Program has focused on expanding the inclusivity and accessibility of ULethbridge’s co-operative education program, which combines real-world work experience with academic studies.
More likely to experience lower levels of success in obtaining and retaining employment and more likely to be underemployed in positions consistent with their education, students with disabilities have been able to realize positive outcomes and demonstrate achievement in meeting employment goals as a result of support from CIBC.
“The CIBC Navigator Program has helped enhance student success and provided opportunities for disability- confident and inclusive co- operative work placements,” says Stacey Gaudette-Sharp (BA ’03, MA ’06), academic director in the Career Bridge Centre for Work- Integrated Learning and Career Development.
Supported by a $250,000 gift, the CIBC Navigator Program has helped students develop technical and work-ready skills, personal and professional confidence, an understanding of how to effectively self-advocate, and important employment competencies. Additionally, the gift helped build quality employer partnerships and supported employer partners through wage subsidies and disability employment education.
“The CIBC Navigator co-op program truly opened doors and connected me to valuable work experiences,” says ULethbridge accounting student Venus Xiong, a Fall 2022 participant of the CIBC Navigator Program. “The excellent support and care, along with the help of the co-op coordinator, will help me become job ready upon graduation.”
The investment from CIBC highlights the corporation’s involvement in supporting students and promoting opportunities for them to thrive while working to achieve their academic goals.
“CIBC has a long-standing history of supporting our communities and the CIBC Navigator program aligns with our commitment to remove barriers to employment for underrepresented communities,” says Ronan Ryan, Executive Director of CIBC Foundation. “We’re proud to support the Navigator program, which will increase social and community connections and help build a sense of belonging and future opportunities.”
In addition to fostering skill development such as interpersonal, planning, team and problem-solving skills, co- operative education experiences increase social and community connections for students and enhance a sense of belonging, self-identity, confidence and purpose. Many students with disabilities are hampered in accessing these benefits because the framework to help them into the workplace does not exist.
To date, eight students have been successfully placed in co-op work terms with local organizations in both Lethbridge and Calgary through the CIBC Navigator Program. In 2023-24, the program aims to place up to three more. Career Bridge is also developing an employer toolkit that reflects equity, diversity and inclusion awareness, understanding and integration.