R.J. Skirda & Associates - Ottawa, ON

By: R J Skirda & Associates  09-12-2011


provides a variety of vocational, pre-vocational and career counselling services. The Vocational Counsellor provides education and related supports including, but not exclusive to, the development of viable/reasonable employment goals, labour market investigations, provision of job search strategies, interviewing skills, resumé preparation and job retention skills.

Vocational Counselling supports are highly individualized and are based on the particular needs and skill sets of the client while also taking into consideration any disability-related issues. The Vocational Counsellor plays an integral role in the client’s progressive vocational rehabilitation, working collaboratively with all treatment team members to define suitable and attainable vocational goals. In some instances, the Vocational Counsellor may assist the client and treatment team to coordinate suitable pre-vocational and/or volunteer work experience placements. Said placements serve to provide a venue for assessing individual workday tolerances, an opportunity to trial/troubleshoot pain and/or cognitive remediation strategies, enhance confidence and social/interpersonal skills, as well as build upon the client’s job skills and experience.

An individual’s progress/demonstrated abilities in said placements also serves to provide additional information regarding future employability and/or the need for further vocational assessment, skills training and related planning.

An Employability Examination assesses the client’s potential as it relates to a return to the competitive workforce. The client is assessed in areas related to interests, academic achievement, work-related aptitudes, verbal/nonverbal abilities, specialized aptitudes, transferable skills as well as occupational personality /temperament (screening). Standardized and non-standardized Work Samples are utilized as part of the formal examination process. The examination is designed to obtain a Worker Qualification Profile (WQP) for the client, which is compatible with the Canadian Classification & Dictionary of Occupations CCDO)/National Occupational Classification (NOC) - Counselling Version.

The Worker Qualification Profile (WQP) is then utilized to establish viable vocational options for the client. This profile can also take into consideration the client’s physical abilities, as may be determined by a Functional Capacity/Abilities Evaluation. Information related to wages as well as training requirements can also be provided. The report will summarize all employment feasibility issues. Upon request, the evaluator will present vocational planning recommendations in order to facilitate an eventual resumption of gainful employment.

This analysis is a highly useful vocational instrument whether utilized in conjunction with the Employability Examination, or simply as a tool when testing is not deemed necessary (as pre-determined by a Employability Expert). Upon provision of all relevant historical information by the referral source (i.e. resumé, school transcripts, wages, etc.), a client's Worker Qualification Profile (WQP) can be extracted and developed. Any information available pertaining to the client's physical/cognitive limitations is also reviewed and incorporated into the profile. This enables the evaluator to make appropriate recommendations designed to address the referral's specific questions.

Whenever possible, the client is requested to attend an interview with the evaluator. However, if unavailable, a profile can still be developed utilizing the information provided. The TSA is customarily included as part of the Employability (Vocational) Examination.

This evaluation incorporates all of the same components outlined in the description of an Employability Examination (see above). In addition, a thorough examination of the client’s psychological profile is provided, including general intellectual function, as well as psychological status. Each component of this evaluation is completed by the respective specialist, that of a certified Vocational Evaluator and Clinical Psychologist. The conclusions and recommendations of each professional are then synthesized to provide a comprehensive analysis taking into consideration all personal and vocational characteristics including possible psychological implications/barriers, etcetera.

This assessment is designed to assess the highest possible income a client can earn given their current (post-disability) status. In the case of a physical injury or disability, a Functional Capacity/Abilities Evaluation is generally recommended (if a recent report is not available on file) in order to identify the client’s current functional abilities. All relevant medical and psychological documentation is reviewed by the Employability Expert when completing this assessment. An Employability Examination is then performed in order to ascertain the client’s potential for work based on their personal and vocational characteristics. The information secured is then analyzed in conjunction with the supplied medical documentation to form a residual worker trait profile. From this profile, the evaluator is able to identify occupations suited to the client, or those for which the client is able to perform along with the average annual earnings of the selected occupation(s). This final step may sometimes involve securing additional data from the labour market, in addition to the use of Statistics Canada - Wage Guides. The expert’s report will provide the referral source with the client’s highest residual earning capacity based on their physical abilities, as well as personal and vocational characteristics.

Unlike the typical Functional Capacity/Abilities Evaluation, the WSA examines the client’s abilities in a format more closely resembling that found in a typical work setting. The client will typically attend our simulated work setting for a period of at least one (1) week allowing for a more concise measure as to their workday tolerances, in consideration of such issues as neurogenic fatigue, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, etcetera. The extended duration of the assessment allows for measurement of the cumulative effects of work over time. The supplemental inclusion of an Employability Examination allows access to both primary (i.e. aptitudes, intellectual ability, academic achievement skills, etc.), as well as secondary (i.e. work-related behaviours, motivation, communication/social skills, etc.) vocational characteristics in order to build a comprehensive Worker Qualification Profile (WQP).

Whenever possible, work simulation activities are customized to the client’s specific needs or potential work-related pursuits. In this way, we are able to make appropriate recommendations regarding work potential, which can then be implemented in an actual work environment under the development and supervision of a rehabilitation specialist.


is also able to make determinations regarding the client’s current capacity for engaging in their pre-disability occupation or an occupation(s) for which they are reasonably suited given their personal and vocational characteristics.

Under some circumstances,


recommends the utilization of Functional Capacity/Abilities Evaluation results in conjunction with the Work Simulation Assessment (WSA) to further validate the client’s tolerances and/or endurance for work-related tasks.

Results obtained from any of the aforementioned assessments are often supplemented with a Labour Market Analysis (LMA) of the client’s geographical region in order to ensure occupational suitability and validity. Information derived from the analysis may include geographical wage information, job requirements, job existence/availability, reported physical demands, as well as any other pertinent information related to the client’s overall employability. All results secured are defensible in a court of law, as


will, as a rule, meet and exceed all statistical requirements allowing for confirmation of a legitimate trend.

The Educational/Career Assessment (ECA) offered at


is designed to assist individuals who are unsure as to their employment future or career direction. The ECA is appropriate for a multitude of age groups inclusive of young adults who are unsure as to their future educational pursuits, as well as adults seeking to change their current employment situation. The ECA is designed to explore a variety of factors including interests, occupational personality/temperament, academic/aptitude abilities as well as all other primary and secondary characteristics. A comprehensive report will be generated outlining all results in addition to a list of occupations suited to the individual’s educational/Worker Qualification Profile (WQP). The report will further provide a list of recommendations designed to facilitate the attainment of the individual’s goal.

So whether you are unsure as to your future career direction or simply want to validate your current choice, this assessment will provide the information necessary to make a confident and informed decision.

Contact R J Skirda & Associates

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