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Why Everyone Should be Considered Employable

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2021 31% of Americans with disabilities were employed as compared to 73% of Americans without disabilities. Although children with disabilities are entitled to supports and services throughout their educational career, these services become irrelevant if the focus is solely about learning ABC’s (or academic concepts) rather than extending to the child’s lifelong goals. Assistance within the community becomes much more limited once adulthood is reached making it critical that our current school system ensures children are prepared for life after high school.

It is well known that employment, in any capacity, is highly beneficial for an individual’s overall well-being. This does not discount people with disability conditions. Studies have shown that employment, as well as volunteer work, increases a person’s independence, improves a multitude of skill sets, provides an opportunity to achieve, and raises self-esteem. Social contact and active participation in community life are directly related to feelings of satisfaction, as most of us have better understood after the recent COVID-19 pandemic. All children deserve the right to aspire to and achieve employment within the society they live in to become an even better version of themselves.

Not only do individuals with disabilities benefit from employment, but there are many positive results for employers and society as well. According to a study conducted in the US and Canada, employers who hired personnel with an Intellectual Disability noted a higher rate of work attendance, dedication to the job, loyalty, and retention. Additionally, employers who hire people with varying disability conditions will benefit from a wider range of perspectives that can be used when attempting to solve problems or while creating new dynamics within their business. Studies have also shown that the customer’s perception of the company improves, as most people value and appreciate inclusiveness. Levels of empathy and the ability to work well with a variety of people is broadened between coworkers and has a positive result within the workplace.

Therefore, it is imperative- and legally required- that we instill employability skills for each child while they are in the education system. On average, children with disabilities will experience more barriers that hinder their acquisition and generalization of skills which further emphasizes the need for employability training to begin as early as possible while in the school system. Federal law mandates that transition services begin at age 16 for children with disabilities, however some states and school districts may start even earlier. Skills such as working well with others, problem-solving, flexibility, organization, and time management will increase the likelihood of employment and ensure they remain competitive, achieve personal and work-related goals, and better adapt to changing work environments. Families, schools, and communities who insist upon effective transition services in the school system could make the difference between a person with a disability feeling effective within their community and falling prey to the current labor statistic.

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