Employment Connections: A Transition Tool Kit for Youth with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- I’m a recent graduate with a disability, and I’m 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 you’re still a student, visit the career centre on your campus to see what internship programs they know of. If you’ve graduated, that doesn’t mean you can’t find an internship. Ability Edge (www.careeredge.ca) and various programs operating under the Federal Government’s Youth Employment Strategy (YES) are other options to consider if you’re in the hunt for an internship opportunity. It might also be possible to set up an internship yourself with an organization you’re 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)’s 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.
- I’m a person with a disability, interested in starting my own business.
Where can I turn for help? What’s 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 what’s involved. Most successful organizations start with an effective business plan, which will describe the product or service you’ll offer, how you’ll go about offering that product or service, the resources you’re 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 you’ll need to secure to operate your business, unless you’re 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. You’ll also need to determine things like where you’ll operate (in an office space versus within a home office environment), the equipment and resources you’ll 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 don’t necessarily have to offer anything out of the ordinary to succeed. A competitive business plan and a positive attitude can lead you to success.
- I’m afraid that when a company learns of my accommodation
requirements because of my disability they won’t want to hire me.
What should I do?
First of all, it’s important to remember that a company’s 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 can’t help you if they’re 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, don’t use a tone that suggests you consider yourself a burden to the company; speak with the confidence that you know you’re 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
aren’t readily available. Where can I turn for learning disabilityrelated
Many organizations – Ability Edge and the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres’ (CAILC) Navigating the Waters initiative, to name just two – offer employment programs for a cross-disability clientele. Other employment training and placement programs, such as those offered through the Federal Government’s Youth Employment Strategy (YES), as well as the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP), offer job opportunities to young people both with and without disabilities.
The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) operates a program called Destination Employment. The initiative, funded through the HRDC’s 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:
- 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, is important.
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.