Innovative Policy 2017 on Employment and Vocational Education & Training
Creating employer demand for inclusive hiring
|Responsible body||Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA)|
Canada’s Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA) initiative of 2014–2017 is a nationwide partnership between the government and disabled peoples organizations that promotes awareness among employers as to the value of employees with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder. RWA provides individualized assistance to become a more inclusive employer, including assistance in identification of candidates, enhancing disability awareness among employers, making connections to community agencies that provide employment services and support, providing individual on-the-job support, and much more. To date, the initiative has conducted outreach to 5,983 employers.
In Canada the employment rate of persons with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorders is around 15–20 per cent, and another 500,000 are ‘ready, willing, and able’ to work. To address the general lack of awareness among employers, in 2013 the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) began to develop multiple pilot projects testing the RWA model and consulting various stakeholders, such as People First of Canada, 13 CACL members, major employers, and others. In 2014, together with the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA), CACL applied to the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. RWA was approved to operate as a pilot initiative from 1 September 2014 to 31 August 2017.
«Hiring a person with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder is a good business decision.»
The RWA initiative is aiming to increase employer capacity and demand to hire job seekers with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder. RWA first engages with the employer and provides them with the business case of inclusive hiring. If the employer is interested, further meetings are held. As employment opportunities are identified, these are shared with local employment agencies. Jobseekers register with the agencies, and the agencies identify the candidates who match the employers’ needs. Employers then screen applications and conduct interviews (there are no wage subsidies). Once a candidate is hired, RWA will work to identify any additional support required. The agency will maintain contacts, and RWA staff will provide follow-up. RWA provides further assistance to employers to enable them to become more inclusive, and it particularly seeks to secure partnerships with national employers.