It s a Thursday afternoon. Twenty to thirty people have logged onto the chat forum at the Gateway to Diversity, the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation’s website, to discuss how to find work using the Internet.

Three staff members from the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) have also logged on for the chat. Pat Reiniger, Stan Delaney and Keltie Creed are acting as the forum s resident experts for the afternoon s session.

Participants in the chat throw their questions out to the experts: Where can I obtain more information on job accommodation issues? What is the Wide Area Employment Network? Is it safe to send my r?sum? across the Internet? The experts toss back their pointed and informative answers. The hour slips away, and another Gateway to Diversity forum comes to an end.

Why are these three people experts on looking for work online? The answer is simple. CCRW is responsible for some highly innovative online work search, employment and accommodation projects. Their most notable virtual products include: WORKink — The Virtual Employment Centre; the Wide Area Employment Network; WORKWIRE; and the Job Accommodation Network in Canada.

In the late spring of 1997, CCRW and the Centre for Education and Training (CET), Peel Board of Education, were awarded a contract from Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) to build Canada s first Virtual Employment Centre (VEC).

The VEC project consists of funding for a technical infrastructure (computers, Internet access, software, etc.) for 10 community agencies, the development of an interactive web site called WORKink, and a content management facility. Together, these three components comprise the foundation for one of the most exciting Internet/career projects of the decade.

WORKink draws from the familiar devices of journalism but also includes interactive features and other rich content. Some of the robust features of the site include: online career and work counselling; moderated guest presentations; an interactive library of career, occupational and training videos; community discussion forums; job postings; r?sum? databases; news and events sections; and software reviews.

The site structure is woven around the concept of "Community Content Providers." WORKink offers its partners the opportunity to submit relevant content and determine the editorial direction of the site on an ongoing basis. Issues specific to new job search techniques, employment or work success stories, agency special events and accessibility issues are excellent examples of potential "community content" topics.

Unlike other online employment resources, WORKink is a living, breathing site. Aside from benefiting from fresh content, chat sessions and relevant news items, visitors can schedule a time to meet and chat in real time with the online career counsellor. WORKink offers a level of interactivity that is unparalleled.

The Wide Area Employment Network (WAEN) is a networked database containing the r?sum?s of skilled people with disabilities for viewing by employers who are searching for job-ready candidates. The WAEN is available to all Canadian job seekers with disabilities and all employers. CCRW has managed to absorb the costs of the WAEN entirely and currently offers it as a free service.

There are WAEN offices in Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver, as well as 35 other r?sum? input sites available to job seekers. The long-awaited update to the WAEN, one operating entirely on the World Wide Web, will soon be available for employers and job seekers, dramatically increasing access to this fabulous service.

WORKWIRE provides virtual employment recruiting for both job seekers and employers. Similarly to the WAEN, job seekers can use WORKWIRE to create r?sum?s and place them directly into a database that is constantly being accessed by employers. One of the most sophisticated r?sum? databases in the marketplace available to employers, WORKWIRE is updated by new user entries and driven by a powerful search engine. For employers, finding qualified candidates for a company has never been easier. For job seekers, WORKWIRE provides a new means to find employment.

JANCANA, the Job Accommodation Network in Canada, was established to help people make the best possible decisions on job accommodation issues. CCRW operates the Canadian arm of the U.S.-based Job Accommodation Network. The JANCANA mission is "to assist in the hiring, retraining, retention or advancement of persons with disabilities by providing accommodation information." For toll-free access to JANCANA, call 1-800-JANCANA. A JANCANA website is also maintained, providing direct access to accommodation consultants and resources at absolutely no cost.

Together, these four services position CCRW on the cutting edge of Internet-based technologies. As new technologies become available, you can be sure that the CCRW staff will be there, continuing to offer high-quality employment and accommodation services for persons with disabilities, and backing them up with a human element that no amount of technology can replace.

WEBSITE LIST:

Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work

http://www.ccrw.com/

WORKink

http://www.WORKink.com/

WORKWIRE

http://www.workwire.com/

JANCANA

http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/english/homecan.htm

Equal Opportunity Ontario s Gateway to Diversity

http://www.equalopportunity.on.ca/

THE CANADIAN COUNCIL ON REHABILITATION AND WORK
500 UNIVERSITY AVENUE, SUITE 302
TORONTO, ON M5G 1V7
TEL.: (416) 974-5575
FAX: (416) 974-5577
TTY: (416) 974-2636
E-MAIL: info@ccrw.org
WEBSITE: a target="_blank"href="http://www.ccrw.org">http://www.ccrw.org