Supporting the transition into employment: A study of Canadian young adults living with disabilities
Objective To examine the job accommodation and benefit needs of young adults with disabilities as they transition into employment, and their perceived barriers to meeting support needs. Methods An online survey was conducted of 155 Canadian young adults with disabilities (mean age = 25.8 years). Respondents were either employed or seeking employment, and were asked about their need for health benefits, and soft (e.g., flexible scheduling) and hard accommodations (e.g., ergonomic interventions), and perceived accommodation barriers. Disability characteristics (e.g., disability type), demographic details and work context information were collected. Multivariable logistic analyses were conducted to examine the factors associated with a greater need for health benefits and hard and soft accommodations. Result Participants reported having a physical (79%), psychological (79%) or cognitive/learning disability (77%); 68% had > 1 disability. Over half (55%) were employed. Health benefits and soft accommodations were most needed by participants. Also, an average of six perceived accommodation barriers were indicated; difficulty with disability disclosure was most frequently reported. More perceived accommodation barriers were associated with a greater need for health benefits (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04–1.31) and soft accommodations (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.01–1.27). A psychological disability was a associated with a greater need for health benefits (OR 2.91, 95% CI 1.09–7.43) and soft accommodations (OR 3.83, 95% CI 1.41–10.42). Discussion Employers can support the employment of young adults with disabilities through provision of extended health benefits and soft accommodations. Addressing accommodation barriers could minimize unmet workplace need, and improve employment outcomes for young adults with disabilities as they begin their career and across the life course.