The future of work in shaping the employment inclusion of young adults with disabilities: a qualitative study

Publication type
Journal article
Jetha A, Shamaee A, Tompa E, Smith PM, Bultmann U, Bonaccio S, Tucker LB, Norman C, Banks CG, Gignac MA
Date published
2023 Jan 01
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Open Access?

Purpose The world of work is changing and creating challenges and opportunities for the employment inclusion of young people with disabilities. In this article, the perceptions held by young adults with disabilities regarding participation in the future of work are examined. Design/methodology/approach One-on-one interviews were conducted with Canadian young adults (ages 18–36 years) living with a disability. Participants were asked about their thoughts regarding the impact of the changing nature of work on their labor market involvement and career aspirations. A thematic analysis was performed to identify and examine emergent salient themes. Findings In total, 22 young adults were interviewed; over half held secure employment. Career aspirations and work-related decisions were primarily shaped by a participant's health needs. The future of work was seen as a more proximal determinant to employment. Digital technologies were expected to impact working conditions and create barriers and facilitators to employment. Participants who indicated being securely employed held positive expectations regarding the impact of digital technology on their work. Participants working precariously held negative appraisals regarding the impact of digital technologies on employment opportunities. The role of technological and soft skills was critical to participating in a labor market reliant on advanced technology. Participants reported barriers to developing job skills related to their disability and their work arrangements. Originality/value This research highlights the importance of considering changes in the future of work, especially the digital transformation of the economy, in the design of initiatives which promote the employment inclusion of young adults with disabilities. Despite the significance of the changing nature of work, supporting health needs and encouraging access to secure work arrangements also remain paramount.