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What Demographic Will Make the Biggest Change in Accessibility and Disability Employment

by Mark Wafer
April 1, 2013

All day long we hear of the chronic unemployment levels for people with disabilities and the sad stories of those who have waited for years for fundamental change in order to get their first job, any job and not exactly one they were trained to do. One of my employees with a disability waited 11 years to get her first job. Many of us would have given up, she didn’t and its one of the traits she brings to her job that makes her a fabulous employee.

But looking at the demographics today i see two groups who are going to explode the need for accessibility and the need for meaningful and competitively paid jobs.

First, the workforce.

In Ontario today there are 43,000 students in post secondary education who have a disability.

On wed i walked the halls of Algonquin College in Ottawa and was shocked at the number of students who have disabilities. This number is growing at a rate of 15% per year and that makes Canada a leader in post secondary education for PWD’s.

Today, of the 800,000 Canadians with disabilities looking for work, 340,000 have a post secondary degree or diploma. These students are no different to any other student in the mindset of entitlement. They feel entitled to work and they damn well expect a job or jobs to be available. Senator Harkin of Iowa refers to this as the ADA nation in the U.S…..good description.

The second group in terms of accessibility is going to be the baby boomers who are already retiring, comfortable and used to getting what they want. These individuals are going to demand their rights for true access and as the population ages , retail business and others are going to be pressed to create REAL access, attitudes and all.

I am looking forward to this. I have incorporated these two facts into my presentations and i see a lot of heads nodding in agreement. For all the bad news out there, this is a silver lining.