Campbell: Hiring qualified disabled workers is good for business – and society

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It’s the official month every year for celebrating and recognizing workplace contributions of people who have a disability and the business successes they help create. But it is significantly more than that.

It represents a critical opportunity for all businesses to examine their recruitment strategies and make improvements. Statistics show many companies are still missing out on a vast untapped pool of employees: skilled people who have a disability.

The time for sourcing the disability talent pool is now. In 2013, the Conference Board of Canada projected the labour shortage could be one million people by next year. And according to a 2014 Miner Management Consultants report, it could be almost two million by 2031.

Then why isn’t business sourcing the disability talent pool more? The national employment rate of people who have a disability is 59 per cent, compared to 80 per cent of people without a disability.

As a nation, we’re really good at making our education system accessible for students who have a disability. In Canada, 50 per cent of people who hold a university degree have more than one disability. So do 67 per cent of people with trade certificates or college diplomas. But to what end are we making our universities and colleges accessible? Because the post-graduation roadblocks are up.

“Why isn’t business sourcing the disability talent pool more? The national employment rate of people who have a disability is 59 per cent, compared to 80 per cent of people without a disability.”

There’s a lack of career support services within our post-secondary institutions for graduating students who have a disability. On top of this, the unemployment rate of university or college graduates who have a disability is twice that of their non-disabled counterparts. And even when they are hired, there’s a huge wage gap. A 2015 study by the University of Guelph noted that just two years after graduation, graduates who have a disability earn $4,000 less than non-disabled graduates. (Read more…)


Re-post from Ottawa Citizen, by Jeannette Campbell, October 7, 2019