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The earnings and employment outcomes of the 2005 cohort of Canadian postsecondary graduates with disabilities

Canada’s fear of future skill and labor shortages has brought youth with disabilities to the forefront of public policy. Many universities are now reporting that an increased proportion of their graduating students identify as having a disability, and as a result, educational achievement‐based programs designed to accommodate students’ needs are growing across campuses. Despite recent attention by policymakers on improving accessibility standards and increasing employer incentives, young Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers in their transitions to the workforce. The nature and extent of the early workforce inequalities faced by postsecondary graduates with disabilities remains unclear. This paper draws on the 2005 cohort of Statistics Canada’s National Graduates Survey to examine the early workforce outcomes of postsecondary graduates with disabilities. Contrary to theories of human capital, the results reveal significant earnings gaps between graduates with and without disabilities of various fields of study and levels of schooling. Further, graduates with a disability are even more disadvantaged in terms of securing employment, as they were significantly less likely to be employed full‐time, and were overrepresented among unemployed and part‐time workers across various fields of study and levels of postsecondary education.