Access to Success: A Guide for Employers

Introduction: Bridging the Gap

By Rachael Ross, President, NEADS

The number of disabled Canadians with post-secondary education has never been higher. Across the nation there is a vast pool of talent and creativity just waiting to be tapped. Yet, those of us who work as advocates in the area of education and/or employment of people with disabilities have, over the years, often heard employers say, “we’d love to hire a disabled person, but we just cannot find anyone with the qualifications we seek.”

We know there is a large number of qualified students and graduates with disabilities out there – many of them are members of our association. Clearly, with so many skilled and educated people looking for work, and a large number of employers keen to hire disabled people, but often unable to find applicants to fill positions, some sort of a gap exists. It is this issue that has motivated NEADS to produce Access to Success: A Guide for Employers, and we hope that it is one small step toward bridging the gap between enthusiastic job candidates with disabilities and progressive employers, willing to bring these individuals into their workplaces.

The following pages are the result of a year’s work consulting students with disabilities, employers, service providers and employment equity specialists across the country. In 2003, NEADS has organized five one-day consultations — what we call Student Leadership and Employment Forums — to share information and ideas with respect to the recruitment and accommodation of persons with disabilities in the Canadian employment market. Now, as the project comes to a close, we are pleased to have this opportunity to offer some different perspectives, an outcome of the issues addressed in our consultations.

What you will find is much like what we have found as we crossed the country: an interesting mix of viewpoints and approaches, and a variety of suggestions on overcoming barriers where they present themselves. The book includes five main subject areas: employer perspectives on hiring people with disabilities, profiles of some successful job seekers with disabilities, a comprehensive list and description of employment related agencies, a review of resources available for employers; and a series of questions that we have heard from employers and some of the answers that have been suggested during the course of this project. The guide also features information on recent, related NEADS initiatives, including our newly launched job site, the NEADS Online Work System (NOWS). It identifies various barriers to access in Canada’s employment market and offers some solutions.

As always, we welcome your feedback on this publication, and the work of the Association.