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The Role of Life Skills in Job Maintenance

A realistic employment goal has been set, the resume has been updated, the interview was a success and your client has been offered the position. Time to celebrate! However, your client’s feeling of elation is soon replaced with anxiety over learning the roles and responsibilities involved in the position as well as adapting to the company’s culture. Then before the probationary period is up, he is called into the manager’s office, at which time his employment is terminated and he is unceremoniously escorted out of the building.

Job maintenance is a critical component of workplace success. To be competitively employable, the candidate must possess or develop competence and confidence in fundamental transferable skills. The root of these qualities can be traced to three core life (problem solving) skills – communication, problem solving and decision making – which are appropriately and responsibly applied to our personal, family, work, leisure and community life depending on the time, place and situation. In fact, these life/transferable skills are also listed as essential job requirements for almost any posted position.

The features of life skills compared with those of employability skills are inextricably intertwined. Key life skills for everyday life include communication, responsibility for feelings, problem solving, decision making, risk taking and change management. Employability skills can be distinguished according to those which are fundamental (i.e. communication, thinking, problem solving); personal management (i.e. positive attitude, sense of responsibility, adaptability); or teamwork (i.e. working with others, giving feedback, understanding the purpose and objectives of a goal).

Problem solving is not an innate ability or natural aptitude, but something that can be learned and developed depending on the individual’s learning style (feeling, observing, thinking, doing). That is where pre-employment support services can be instrumental in helping newly placed clients make it through the probationary period and beyond. The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibility, recently introduced Access Talent – Ontario’s Employment Strategy for Persons With Disabilities ( in light of the Accessible Employment Standard that came into effect on January 1, 2017. This strategic plan is based on four “pillars”:

  • starting early by inspiring and supporting youth and students with disabilities through initiatives such as enhanced career exploration at the earlier stages of education;
  • engaging employers by encouraging and supporting them to lead by example as well as partnering with them to understand their business needs;
  • integration of person-centred employment and training services through the introduction of a new Supported Employment Program in Employment Ontario, which would provide comprehensive services such as job readiness support, job matching, retention, on-the-job coaching as well as financial reimbursement for adaptive technology and other workplace accommodations; and
  • taking the lead in creating change by making the Ontario government a model employer.

This may be one avenue for providing employment related life skills training as a component of the Supported Employment Program. To cite a quote from Mark Twain, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Denise Feltham
Designer of D.I.C.E. (Disability Impact on Career/Employment). Owner/Operator of D.I.C.E. Assessment & Employment Counselling Services Bachelor of Social Work Degree (Ryerson University). Career & Work Counsellor Diploma (George Brown College) Life Skills Coach Certification (Levels I & II) - YWCA

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1 Comment

  1. July 11, 2017, 4:50 pm   / 

    Thanks for this article Denise. I’d like to discuss it further and particularly assessment options. Can you contact me at so we can set up a convenient time.

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