A Short History of Steps2work
Skills Unlimited was started by the late Mr. Sam Sair, a Winnipeg business man, in 1962, to provide a workplace for people leaving the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. In 1965, the operation moved to Winnipeg, with a component still operating in Selkirk until 1977.
The current location at 201 Scott Street was opened in July 1964 to provide Vocational Assessment and Work Training services for participants experiencing a mental illness or intellectual handicap.
Another division of Skills Unlimited was Skills Manufacturing, created in the late 1980’s. The organization became a not-for-profit manufacturing operation, primarily concentrating on the production of cedar wood products. This division was located in the same building and provided paid employment for over 40 employees who had experienced a mental illness, manufacturing a variety of wooden products, primarily high end quality outdoor furniture, coin boxes for the Royal Canadian Mint, crates, and pallets. Many of these products were sold internationally, as well as locally (e.g., cedar benches in the English Gardens). This division closed in 2006.
When the Skills Unlimited workshop facility closed in 1989, the Evaluation and Training department of Skills Unlimited became a second division, concentrating on the evaluation and training of individuals experiencing mental illness, with core funding from what is now the Department of Manitoba Jobs and the Economy, Government of Manitoba. The second division officially took on the name of the Sair Centre of Learning in 1995.
2012 was a year of transition for steps in terms of organizational revitalization, in that it marked the first full year we operated within the framework of our revised by-laws and Strategic Plan. It also marked 50 years of operation and an enormous number of volunteer hours were dedicated to the planning of an anniversary celebration and gala event which took place in June 2012. A rebranding where the adoption of a new name and logo took effect at this same time. The organization known as Sair Centre of Learning is now Sair Training and Employment Placement Services (steps) – the new name better reflecting our vision and mission statements.
Over the last few years, the emphasis of the board has been strengthening its governance structure through new By-laws and renewed Mission and Vision Statements. Improving the accountability of the agency through more accurate data collection and clearer program objectives will focus services to the unique needs of our clients.
Steps2work serves approximately 170 to 200 participants annually by providing assessment services, employment services, and employment support services.