Students with Disabilities in the Workforce: A Report
It’s no surprise that finding a job is becoming harder than ever amid constant competition from other applicants, an already full roster of employees, or not having the experience needed for the position you applied for. According to tradingecomonics.com, the Canadian youth unemployment rate sits at 13.3% as of July 2016; it’s even harder to find work if you identify as someone with a mental illness or physical disability.
Stats Canada reported in 2011 that 47% of those aged 15 – 64 with disabilities were employed. In comparison, those without disabilities in the same age group had a 74% employment rate. In 2013, CBC also reported stats and facts on what it’s like to have a disability while trying to find work. They reported that, according to a survey from BMO Financial Group, only three in 10 small businesses were hiring people who were disabled.
When it comes to hiring those with disabilities, I understand how hard it can be- especially because I consider myself to have the kind of disability that goes “unseen” for many. I was recently given the status of “permanent disability” though admitting that to employers can be rough sometimes.
However, when it comes to finding successful students who work with their disabilities and go on to succeed; I don’t need to look farther than my own newsroom. I was recently given the title of editor-in-chief at my campus paper. It might be strange for some to see that a young woman battling anxiety and OCD can overcome these challenges and actually lead a successful life, but here I am. And I’m not the only one who’s accomplished something despite her disabilities.
In 2014, the University of Toronto Mississauga’s initiative UTMental was among the top ten finalists in the Council of Ontario Universities Mental Health 2.0 Campaign. The initiative involves students with mental illnesses vlogging about their experiences to shed the stigma associated with mental illness.
Sparsh Shah, a 13-year-old singer was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. According to thebetterindia.com, Shah was born with nearly 40 fractures. The site also reported that he went on to compete in a singing competition in April 2015 where he not only won but was named the “Youth Ambassador” for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
The Humans of Bombay Facebook page also featured a story in 2015 of a young woman named Manasi Joshi, who lost her leg after a truck crashed into her vehicle. She pursued her dream regardless and won “silver medal in the Para Badminton World Championship held in England this year but she also has trained for five hours a day, while juggling her job as a software engineer.”
It’s hard to find students and young people out there with disabilities who get the spotlight shone on their successes. But, that doesn’t mean that they’re not out there as guides and inspirations for the rest of us- you could be one too!