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As businesses across British Columbia struggle with a labour shortage, one Vancouver-based charity thinks it has part of the solution.

Mission Possible says many employers are depriving themselves of good workers through unconscious bias and stigma around poverty, mental illness, disability and neurodiversity.

The organization, which helps people who have experienced homelessness or other major life challenges get back into the workforce, has now produced a hiring guidebook to help employers make use of a relatively untapped labour pool.

“There’s thousands of businesses that are looking for unskilled labour — not something that requires certification or lots of education — but they aren’t able to find the right people, and a lot of times that’s because they’re not looking in the right place,” Matthew Smedley, CEO and executive director of Mission Possible said.

“If they’re able to think outside the box, and think about how they can do inclusive hiring, how they can hire individuals who may have some barriers to employment, individuals who may have some diverse abilities, who may struggle with a disability, those individuals have lots of skills, have lots of abilities they can offer to any business, so it’s really recognizing that.”

Participants in Mission Possible have access to coaching, skills training and other supports, and are able to get six months of paid work with the charity’s social enterprises to develop skills and confidence.

Click here to watch the full feature that aired on Global BC on October 8th, 2021, and hear from Steve Silvaggio, an MP Associate.