Youth on the Job

Improving employment opportunities for youth with disabilities

Date published: 2013-11-13 12:00:00 AM

Many youth with disabilities find the transition into the labour market challenging because they often experience barriers such as discrimination, lack of accommodation and lack of training opportunities. Very little is known, however, about employment experience and skills among youth, or about whether and how these differ between youth with and without disabilities.

At the Holland Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, University of Toronto researcher Sally Lindsay and her team study employment readiness and skills gaps among adolescents with disabilities. Lindsay’s research focuses on social justice, diversity, and the participation and inclusion of children and youth with disabilities. She leads a number of studies exploring employment readiness among youth with disabilities, disability disclosure and workplace accommodations, and self-management of chronic conditions.

Lindsay’s current research project—conducted in collaboration with Holland Bloorview’s Centre for Participation and Inclusion—is designed to help youth with disabilities lead healthy, active lives and make a successful transition to adulthood. The research informs Holland Bloorview’s innovative Youth@Work program, which provides youth with disabilities a unique opportunity to build life skills and take part in work placements.

Lindsay’s project started by identifying what skills employers are looking for in their ideal candidates for entry-level positions. Based on that knowledge, Lindsay’s team developed role-playing employment exercises to identify what types of additional skills training would best help youth with disabilities secure jobs.

“Our goal is to feed these results back into our life skills programs at Holland Bloorview to provide our clients with greater opportunities to become part of the Canadian workforce,” says Lindsay.

Research funded by SSHRC: Employment readiness and skills gaps among adolescents with and without disabilities