One of the biggest barriers to inclusive hiring is the perception of exceptional costs to accommodate someone with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, a recent study of 2,000 employers by the Job Accommodation Network showed that 57% of employers reported zero additional costs from hiring an individual with an intellectual disability or ASD.
Trevor Borland, Owner at Pacific Bolt Manufacturing in British Columbia agrees that the cost is minimal and typically no different than having to meet the needs of other employees.
“There is a fear of the unknown,” says Borland, “If employers don’t understand what it will take they won’t do it.”
Borland points out that employers need to be willing to invest extra time in training and make sure the right individual is aligned with the right job.
“It takes work and you need to factor that into your decision making,” says Borland.
Borland recently hired Jamie, a young man with an intellectual disability as a facilities technician, responsible for sorting, packaging and general janitorial duties. He was hired through Ready, Willing and Able (RWA), a national initiative designed to increase the labour force participation of people with intellectual disabilities and ASD.
Initially, there were some concerns among the team about cost, safety, and productivity. It has meant some additional work and time to understand how Jamie works and how best to help him succeed, says Borland. For example, his supervisor uses cue cards to provide Jamie with clear instructions on his tasks. The end result is an extremely loyal employee who enjoys his job and wants to work.
“He never misses a day and he’s never late,” says Borland, “In this environment, where sometimes we have people who don’t want to be here, it’s nice to have an employee who wants to work and is happy to be at work.”
Funded by the Government of Canada and active in 20 communities across the country, RWA is a national partnership of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) and their member organizations.