People with disabilities deserve to find employment just like everyone else, but the end goal needs to be diverted away from just getting them off the welfare system.
Back in the old days, people with disabilities were seen as nothing more than contributors to New Zealand’s welfare system. While that attitude still exists in some peoples’ minds today, people with disabilities are far more included in 2016 than they were all those years ago.
But this doesn’t get us away from two simple facts.
One, people with disabilities are not valued members of the workforce. Two, educational opportunities are not at an equal level for a child with a disability.
Let’s start with the discussion of employment. People want real jobs with real pay, even those with disabilities.
Just 45% of New Zealand’s total disabled population is currently employed, and less than that have a full time job. This is compared to 72% of New Zealand’s able-bodied population who is currently in a job.
That percentage for disabled New Zealanders is shockingly low.
A lot of people with intellectual disabilities struggle more to find a place in the workforce. Studies show that it is 3 – 4 times more difficult for people who fall into this category to find any paid work, not to mention a place in society that makes them fell valued and capable.
A job is about more than just earning a paycheck, it is about a persons sense of well-being and ability to contribute to the society they live in. We need to get away from the mindset that people with disabilities are a drain on the welfare system. If they are, the question is why are they.
Does the New Zealand workforce provide an equal playing field for those with disabilities in comparison to their non-disabled peers? Who is more likely to be hired – someone who has full mobility or someone who requires a wheelchair?
Think about that for a minute.