Myths & Misconceptions: Youth, Students and Graduates with Disabilities


Youth, students and graduates with disabilities

Myth:  Canadians with disabilities are less educated than their non-disabled peers and, therefore, they cannot compete in the 21st century knowledge-based labour market.
Reality: Even given the well-documented barriers to an accessible education many still face, Canadians with disabilities are well-educated. 56% have completed post-secondary education and graduate from a variety of college and university programs.

Misconception: High-school and post-secondary students with disabilities have similar opportunities for internships, co-op placements, summer jobs, and work integrated learning as do their non-disabled peers.
Reality: Encountering barriers often begins early. Many high-school and post-secondary students with disabilities do not receive the support and accommodations they require to engage in these opportunities, experiences that help them prepare to enter the workforce. Consequently, they face additional barriers to employment when they graduate, as compared to their peers without disabilities.

Myth: Completing post-secondary education removes barriers to employment for people with disabilities.
Reality: Graduates with milder disabilities achieve employment rates that are similar to those of graduates without disabilities. However, post-secondary graduates who have more severe disabilities have much lower rates of employment (W 28% and M 32%) than their non-disabled peers with a high school education or less (W 66% and M 79%).

Misconception: When conducting outreach for recruitment, many employers believe it is difficult to find qualified people with disabilities to fill job vacancies at a time when there are also labour shortages that are expected to last over the next decade.
Reality: In today’s job market, traditional methods of recruitment by job postings alone are no longer effective. Proactive and targeted outreach is required to reach underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities. EARN is a resource that can help put you directly in contact with qualified job seekers with disabilities. EARN’s career fairs are accessible and inclusive. We ensure that job seekers with disabilities are accommodated, and through working with our partners, we know that youth and students with disabilities feel comfortable attending our events. In fact, in Ontario there are over 228,000 youth with disabilities, aged 15 to 24 years, who are part of an untapped talent pool that could help meet our current recruitment challenges and labour shortages.

Myth: Safety is a serious concern when hiring people with disabilities because they have more accidents on the job than their non-disabled peers.
Reality: Safety is at least equal if not better with employees with disabilities in the workplace because they are more aware of their surroundings and more likely to follow safety directions and protocols.

Myth: It is very expensive to accommodate an employee with a disability.
Reality: Often employees with disabilities do not require accommodations any more frequently than other employees do. Many accommodations, such as flexible hours, cost nothing to implement. The one-time cost of an accommodation is on average $500.00 or less.

Misconception: Most people with disabilities are physically disabled and use a wheelchair.
Reality: Although the most commonly recognized disability symbol is a wheelchair, only 10% of Canadians have a mobility disability. Disabilities can be visible or non-visible, and can have early or later onset. They can be physical, sensory, pain-related, and include mental health, learning and cognitive disabilities, just to name some of the broad categories. Among Canadian youth with disabilities, aged 15 – 24 years, 60% have a mental health disability. In East Ontario, 75% of post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities enrolled at La Cité, Carleton University, Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa have a non-visible disability such as a learning disability, mental health, or ADHD.

Original sources are available through EARN. v. October 2020

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