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Moving in the right direction

Enhanced Labour Market Participation

The underlying reasons why labour market participation among persons with disabilities remains well below acceptable levels are complex. Much of the research has been focused on understanding the barriers to employment from an individual perspective. Subsequently many of the resources designed, developed, and offered today to help improve this situation offer assistance to individuals with disabilities to overcome identified barriers to their employment.

Although numerous services and tools have been developed and implemented in recent years to assist employers in the province to attract and retain the workforce they require, there are limited resources specifically designed and available to employers to assist them in recruiting and hiring persons with disabilities. As we are all too aware, disabilities generally are not well understood and many myths persist throughout our society today. Most employers do not have the knowledge or experience in working with persons with disabilities as contributing members of their workforce and do not readily have access to quality information or the support they require to encourage them to recruit and successfully retain employees with disabilities.

“Outlook 2020” produced and published by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills in the summer, 2011, provides an excellent overview of the challenges and opportunities for the provincial labour market in the foreseeable future. Employment opportunities will grow due to increasing retirements and employment growth and the province will need to continue to take proactive measures to help ensure an appropriate match between labour supply and labour demand. In respect to the importance of improving the labour force participation rates for persons with disabilities the report highlights;

  • Employment growth has outpaced labour force growth. New job creation has grown faster than the number of new job seekers entering the workforce-a signal that labour market conditions are tightening.
  • Under-represented groups and those not in the workforce today will play an increasingly important role in helping to meet future labour demands.
  • Many of these groups continue to face employment challenges and barriers, including women, persons with disabilities, etc…
  • A much lower proportion of persons with disabilities participate in the labour market. Employment rates are significantly lower for this population and unemployment rates tend to be higher than the general population.

The report confirms the need to develop and implement new partnerships, programs, and services focused on improving the participation of persons with disabilities in the labour force. Additionally, the report highlights the need for new and expanded partnerships with the employer community to develop new and expanded approaches required to adequately address labour market requirements in the coming years.

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