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Employment Connections: A Transition Tool Kit for Youth with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Iím a recent graduate with a disability, and Iím having difficulty finding employment opportunities. Where can I find jobs?
There are many job search facilities for students to make use of: traditional avenues
of job searching, such as newspaper classified ads and listings kept at community
employment centres, are always a good place to start in your hunt. But these are by
no means the only methods of finding work.
The Internet provides endless potential for employment searching. Online job banks,
such as the Human Resources Development Canada Job Bank (http://jb-ge.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/),
Workopolis.ca, Monster.ca and numerous others, list job openings both
in Canada and abroad. Also, many companies highlight vacant positions on their
own Web sites. Visit the sites of companies you might like to work for, and see if
they have a job for you.
Internships are another good way for students or recent graduates to gain a foothold
in the workforce. If youíre still a student, visit the career centre on your campus to
see what internship programs they know of. If youíve graduated, that doesnít mean
you canít find an internship. Ability Edge (www.careeredge.ca) and various programs
operating under the Federal Governmentís Youth Employment Strategy (YES) are
other options to consider if youíre in the hunt for an internship opportunity. It
might also be possible to set up an internship yourself with an organization youíre
interested in working with. Contact companies in the field in which you want to
work, and ask if they are willing to arrange something.
Another way to establish yourself in the labour force is to start your own business.
This is an involved and at times risky path. But for anyone with the determination
to succeed, starting your own venture can be extremely rewarding. The chance to
run your own business can quickly teach you employment skills you might never
pick up as an employee of a larger company. Entrepreneurs with disabilities looking
to start their own business can obtain loans and guidance from organizations such
as the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres (CAILC)ís Navigating
the Waters program, and the Business Development Bank of Canada, both of which
are described in the Transition and Employment Programs Across Canada section of
this document. In addition, business loans can be obtained from your local bank
branch, or from community organizations.
- Iím a person with a disability, interested in starting my own business.
Where can I turn for help? Whatís involved in starting a business?
What kind of business should I start?
As mentioned above, starting a business is a great way for people with the right ideas
and the right attitude to make their mark in the world of work. In addition to the
organizations discussed in the previous question, help can also be obtained from
post-secondary career centres, many disability resource centres and service providers,
and your local Human Resources Centre for Students.
Anyone thinking of starting a business should be aware of whatís involved. Most
successful organizations start with an effective business plan, which will describe
the product or service youíll offer, how youíll go about offering that product or
service, the resources youíre going to need, and a rough estimate of costs involved in
your venture. The programs mentioned in this booklet can give you advice and
guidance on preparing a business plan. They can also provide you with loan money,
which youíll need to secure to operate your business, unless youíre prepared to fund
it yourself. Remember to keep in mind that any loan you negotiate will have to be
paid back within a reasonable time. Youíll also need to determine things like where
youíll operate (in an office space versus within a home office environment), the
equipment and resources youíll need, and how many employees to hire, if any.
As for the type of business to start, there are as many possibilities as there are companies
in existence today. Often, companies that are successful offer a product or service
not easily obtained anywhere else. This can be a completely new idea, or adapting
an existing product or service to cater to a section of the population not currently
served. That said, you donít necessarily have to offer anything out of the ordinary to
succeed. A competitive business plan and a positive attitude can lead you to success.
- Iím afraid that when a company learns of my accommodation
requirements because of my disability they wonít want to hire me.
What should I do?
First of all, itís important to remember that a companyís first priority when filling a
position is to find the best person for the job. If the person who best fits the skill-set
the company needs happens to have a disability, that organization would be remiss
not to hire him or her.
In most cases, honesty is the best policy. Just as with post-secondary professors,
employers canít help you if theyíre not aware of your disability and accommodation
requirements. Being up front about these things at the job interview can make things
easier for you in the long run. When discussing your disability and proper accommodations,
donít use a tone that suggests you consider yourself a burden to the
company; speak with the confidence that you know youíre the best person for the
job, and that these are just things that need to be considered for you to reach your
utmost potential. It might also be beneficial if you come to the interview with contacts
for organizations the company can work with to fill your accommodation needs.
Your local Independent Living Centre or disability service provider can direct you to
places that can provide your employer with advice, funding for adaptive technology,
or lending of technology products.
- Many employment programs exist for people with disabilities, but
similar programs specifically for individuals with learning disabilities
arenít readily available. Where can I turn for learning disabilityrelated
Many organizations Ė Ability Edge and the Canadian Association of Independent
Living Centresí (CAILC) Navigating the Waters initiative, to name just two Ė offer
employment programs for a cross-disability clientele. Other employment training
and placement programs, such as those offered through the Federal Governmentís
Youth Employment Strategy (YES), as well as the Federal Student Work Experience
Program (FSWEP), offer job opportunities to young people both with and without
The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) operates a program called
Destination Employment. The initiative, funded through the HRDCís Opportunities
Fund, was set up to integrate or reintegrate Canadians with learning disabilities into
the workforce. The program offers successful applicants free assessments where
needed, as well as job skills training. Additionally, participants and project coordinators
will work together to identify and approach potential employers to arrange four
to eight week job placements. The program is available through LDAC offices in
cities across Canada. For more information, contact:
Learning Disabilities Association of Canada
323 Chapel St.
Web site: www.ldac-taac.ca
- I have a hidden disability. How do I properly disclose to my employer?
This is a tricky question, and one which all people with hidden disabilities must deal
with every day. A good general rule was suggested by a panel member at the Victoria
Student Leadership and Employment Forum. He said that the best time to identify a
hidden disability is at the interview stage. Invariably in an interview the employer
will offer a candidate the opportunity at the end of the time to ask questions or seek
clarification of any thing that has gone before. At this stage, mentioning ones hidden
disability, if it has any relevance to the job, or will require any accommodation,
As mentioned above this should be done in a positive and friendly manner. One
should also have a clear understanding of their accommodation needs in the new
work environment, and be able to provide the employer with a sense of how they
can be met and any programs that are available to support the accommodations.
- Are there offices of Human Resources Development Canada that I can
contact for further information on federal government programs and
services for youth with disabilities?
Yes, there are over 320 local and regional offices across Canada. Visit the Human
Resources Development Canada Web site, www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca
and select Our Offices on the home page or contact the Youth Info Line at 1-800-935-5555.