It is so much more than just having a job. It is a critical step to leading a fulfilling life for any adult. It is a chance to create the life you want. A job builds self-esteem, gives us a sense of accomplishment, participation, contribution, and enables the creation of friendships and relationships.
Sadly, for more than 500,000 working aged Canadians with intellectual disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a meaningful job is not part of their reality. Only 1 in 4 persons with intellectual disabilities or ASD are gainfully employed. Most spend their days with little community contact in segregated work or day activity centers. Their reality is a life of reliance on social assistance benefits, more often than not resulting in a life of isolation and poverty.
It does not have to be that way. We can change that reality.
The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) are very proud to be partners in the delivery of the Ready Willing and Able (RWA) initiative. RWA, a three-year project funded by the Government of Canada, is designed to increase the workforce participation of people with intellectual disabilities and ASD.
RWA will accomplish this by reaching out to, and engaging, employers and increasing their understanding of the value and economic benefits to hiring people with intellectual disabilities and ASD. RWA will help employers realize that these working aged adults represent a significantly untapped labour source that could very much assist in addressing their staffing needs. RWA will connect these employers who are ready, willing and able to hire to local employment agencies who are supporting adults with intellectual disabilities and ASD who are equally ‘ready willing and able’ to work.
RWA is an exciting initiative for both CACL and CASDA. It is one that will allow us to address the unacceptable employment rate for people with intellectual disabilities and ASD in a comprehensive and substantive way. RWA will have a significant positive impact on the lives of thousands of adults with intellectual disabilities and ASD across Canada, will assist employers to attract and retain great employees, and indeed contribute to the economic well being of this country.