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.The idea for developing a specialized post-secondary training program that supported adults with challenges was proposed by Dr. Prakash Bansod at the Professional Development, and Training Committee at the Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT) in 2000. In 2005 two policy resolutions were passed by MBOT and sent to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and finally on to the Canadian Chamber Of Commerce (CCC) where they received unanimous approval.

In summary the CCC firstly recommended that nationally approved post-secondary certification program be developed for intellectually challenged workers, and secondly, that local and Provincial governments set up a grant system to fund this cohort to participate in these post-secondary programs.

In 2005, MITE Inc. made a decision to launch a private initiative, which it called Para-IT. Para-IT would embody the spirit of the CCC resolutions but the certification program would be privately funded and developed. Although MITE Inc. is a for profit Engineering and Information Technology Corporation, Para-IT would be run as a non-profit social enterprise and division of MITE Inc.

Between 2005 and 2007, MITE Inc. attempted to raise venture capital to fund this project and in 2007 took out a bank loan to fund this project. This funding allowed a one year pilot project to start. This helped in developing teaching methods and curriculum. In 2008 formal instruction was started and a the first version of the curriculum was documented in 2009.

In 2015 the curriculum was completely revised to include the Contribution of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs.) This included a Foundation Class of Skills and attributes, Core competencies and a World View enhanced by a topics from the Liberal Arts and Volunteer experience

Whereas Para -IT's main thrust will remain the development of employable skills and the ability to get a job and keep it, we also needed to be faithful to our motto of leaving no one behind. Accordingly, in 2016, Para-IT's broadened its mandate to include adults who face socio-economic and circumstantial challenges that need similar training.

Future Direction

Over the years a wealth of teaching experience has been accumulated The pedagogy that addressing the learning needs of challenged workers is an ongoing research project. There are two research projects currently being undertaken:

1) A book entitled, Working with the Beautiful Minds: A Guide to Getting a Job and Keeping It for Challenged Workers, is currently being written.This book will be useful to both students and instructors. It will document the Para-IT experience and applied research to date. However, every effort will be made to simplify and illustrate the text so that it would be understood by challenged learners.

2) Para-IT has embarked on an ambitious project to model aspects of interpersonal behavior related to steps in acquiring employment and dealing with post hiring challenges. Software, in the form of high resolution 3-D animationis is now available that would allow us to create realistic avatars of our interns. The avatars will look, walk and talk like the interns The idea is to have these avatars interact successfully with other avatars in real life situations. The hope is that interns will develop interpersonal skills by observing realistic likenesses to accomplish interpersonal tasks.

 

     
Dr. Bansod, founder of the Para-IT social enterprise, receiving his Civic Award of Recognition from Mayor Hazel McCallion, Mississauga, Canada.

 

 Para-IT is a Registered Trade Mark of Meadowvale Information Technology and Engineering Inc.

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