More than 26 per cent of New Brunswickers have a disability and many are ready, willing and able to work. At the same time, New Brunswick employers are facing challenges in finding people to fill both entry level and skilled jobs.
There is an economic imperative that we find solutions to our current and future labour shortages. A recent media commentary by Haley Flaro, Executive Director of Ability New Brunswick, highlighted an important solution in the ever-growing labour shortage problem: tapping into the qualified labour pool that currently exists within working age people who have a disability.
The need to explore a number of options to labour shortage problems is clear. While unemployment has been the story for generations in New Brunswick, a lack of people to fill job vacancies has captured the attention of employers and has been featured in recent news coverage. Statistics are indicating that finding skilled, and entry level workers, is becoming more difficult. A report by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council shows New Brunswick’s labour force declined by 8,800 over the period 2012-2018 – primarily due to retiring baby boomers.
“Over the next 10 years there’s going to be 120,000 New Brunswickers leave the workforce mainly due to retirement,” said Trevor Holder, the province’s Post-Secondary Education Minister.
With the highest levels of retirement still to occur, New Brunswick businesses need to be creative, flexible, and innovative in their recruiting, hiring, and retention practices to meet what experts agree will be a challenge.
People with an intellectual or developmental disability are also ready to step in and help address our labour needs. In New Brunswick, 71.8 per cent of adults aged 15-64 with a developmental disability are not in the labour force. With a population of over 60,000 working age adults with disabilities in the province, employers have a significant opportunity to meet their labour shortfalls, and to create a dynamic and inclusive workplace culture.
Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) is a federally funded national partnership of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) and their member organizations. RWA is designed to increase the labour force participation of people with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across Canada.
I’m Corinne Arseneau, and I work as the RWA Labour Market Facilitator for New Brunswick. I work with the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL), a non-profit organization that assists people with an intellectual or developmental disability to reach their potential. In my role I provide relevant information around the benefits of hiring persons with an intellectual or developmental disability, emphasizing their capabilities, and clearly demonstrating how this will benefit the employer and the business or organization.
Across the country, many jobs go unfilled because individuals with an intellectual disability or ASD are not considered as potential candidates. Their strengths and talents are often overlooked due to outdated and false perceptions that do not focus on the reality of skill sets offered.
Both RWA and NBACL are committed to opening the doors to employment opportunities for persons in New Brunswick who are currently unemployed or under-employed. The benefits of hiring through RWA are many, including:
- 76 per cent of businesses rated employees hired through RWA as well or better than average on productivity
- 97 per cent of businesses rated employees hired through RWA as well or better than average on turnover
- Employees hired by businesses working with RWA demonstrated a 93 per cent retention rate
Persons with an intellectual or developmental disability have access to supports (at no cost to employers) such as work readiness training, job coaching, and social skills development – which are invaluable especially in the training phase of employment.
With the proper supports and accommodations in place, persons with an intellectual and developmental disability contribute significantly to the productivity of an organization. The cost of accommodation to the employer in NB is minimal to none, the supports offered in the hiring, training, and retention of RWA candidates are many. Hiring inclusively just makes good business sense!
For more benefits of hiring through the Ready, Willing & Able program, and to access Canadian employer success stories visit readywillingable.ca. Contact Corinne Arseneau via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 506-453-4475 to speak about your hiring needs.