Employment for Youth with Disabilities

Regretfully this initiative has been cancelled. Our partners in the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) are supportive of this initiative, but unfortunately were unable to fund it.

Please feel free to use the ideas that have been developed in our proposal. Contact us to find out more.

Meanwhile, the MCSS is continuing to move on improving developmental services. Click here to find out more on what they are doing

We are also working with the Canadian Association for Community Living on the Ready, Willing and Able initiative. You can find out more here.  

Thank you for your support and interest to date. We hope to revisit this initiative again in the near future. 

The Challenge

Ontario’s youth are facing an employment crisis. In 2013, only one in two Ontarians between the ages of 15 and 24 had paid employment – the worst numbers seen since Statistics Canada began keeping records in 1976. Youth with disabilities face even higher rates of unemployment than their similarly aged peers.

From 2001 to 2006, Canada’s disability rate increased from 12.4% to 14.3%, totalling 4.4 million Canadians. This rate is expected to rise further.

Ontario offers a suite of special education, employment training and support for youth with disabilities, with ongoing improvement and transformation initiatives. Despite these efforts, the high unemployment rate among youth with disabilities continues to be a complex and seemingly intractable challenge.

The Ministries of Community and Social Services (MCSS) and Children and Youth Services (MCYS) have partnered with MaRS Solutions Lab to develop and test new approaches for transforming the education, training and employment services system for youth with disabilities. Next, MaRS Solutions Lab proposes to convene a network of youth, employers, innovators and experts to research, explore and design solutions together.

Finding solutions

Stereotypes about people with disabilities
How can we change stereotypes of abilities and disabilities?

MaRS Solutions Lab is working with partners across sectors to explore this problem area through open dialogue. We are beginning with youth and people with disabilities.

We are exploring interventions with employers that maximize business value, not just feel-good corporate social responsibility. We are working with government and researchers to link our observations of families, communities and businesses with economic and social outcomes.

A preliminary research team of staff and managers from Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), and Cabinet Office (CO) worked with MaRS Solutions Lab over four sessions in Spring 2013 to develop a project research brief. We then developed a challenge brief based on this work. These two earlier works can be downloaded below.

In discussion with senior executives from MCSS and MCYS we agreed that a different approach is needed. We are now developing this new approach.


Youth with Disabilities: System Change for Lifelong Careers – Research Brief

Download (“pdf”)

Youth with Disabilities: System Change for Lifelong Careers – Challenge Brief

Download (“pdf”)

Creative Commons License
Youth with Disabilities: System Change for Lifelong Careers – Challenge Brief by MaRS Solutions Lab is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.