4 Importance of Post-Secondary Education in Transitioning to Work

“Education is linked to a person’s knowledge and skill level, and is a strong predictor of success in the workforce. Higher educational attainment, especially in post-secondary education, is strongly correlated with not only finding employment, but gaining access to better kinds of employment.” (Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2017) [1]While there is an established correlation between education and employment, “persons with disabilities are less likely than those without disabilities to graduate from high school or from university.” [2] People with disabilities continue to be under-represented and underutilized in the labour force. Higher education is quickly becoming the minimum requirement for employment. It was projected that almost 900,000 new jobs would be created between 2001-2017 and 80% of these jobs would require some level of post-secondary education (Turcotte, 2014). [3]

“PSE experiences have been correlated with increased wages and job opportunities.” (Cervale & Deroches, 2003; Marcotte et al., 2005; Prince & Jenkins, 2005, as cited in Grigal et al., 2011) [4]The positive correlation between level of educational attainment and employment is widely recognized; however, individuals with disabilities continue to be significantly disadvantaged in these areas. According to Statistics Canada, working-age adults (aged 15 to 64) with a developmental disability had lower levels of educational attainment than adults without disabilities, regardless of age. In fact, the gap in educational attainment between those without any disability and those with developmental disabilities was the greatest of any of the specific disability types. [5]

In its 2017/18-2019/20 Service Plan, the BC Government’s Ministry of Advanced Education states one of the strategies in support of its goal to “ensure students are supported to achieve their education, employment and training goals” [6] is to “Support learners with disabilities through continued funding for programs and services that help offset barriers to post-secondary education and training.” [7]


Advanced education and training are well-known means for successfully obtaining gainful employment. Not only is it common for high school students to pursue advanced education at colleges and technical schools to enhance job prospects, but those who do so tend to earn more over their lifetime (Carnevale, Rose, & Cheah, 2011; Marcotte, Bailey, Borkoski & Kienzl, 2005, as cited in Wehman et al., 2017). [8]

  1. Canadian Human Rights. (2017). Left Out: Challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Canada's schools: A report by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. CanLII. https://canlii.ca/t/sjdd
  2. Statistics Canada. (n.d.). A profile of persons with disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years or older, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2017, from Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2015001-eng.htm#a3
  3. Turcotte, M. (2014, December 3). Persons with disabilities and employment. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2014001/article/14115-eng.htm
  4. Grigal, M., Hart, D., & Migliore, A. (2011) Comparing the Transition Planning, Postsecondary Education, and Employment Outcomes of Students With Intellectual and Other Disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 43(1), 4-17. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0885728811399091
  5. Statistics Canada. (2015, December 3). statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from Canadian survey on disability, 2012: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2015003-eng.htm
  6. British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education. (2017, February). 2017/18-2019/20 Service Plan, p. 7. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from 2017/8-2019/20 Service Plan: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2017/sp/pdf/ministry/aved.pdf
  7. British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education. (2017, February). bcbudget.gov.bc.ca. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from 2017/8-2019/20 Service Plan: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2017/sp/pdf/ministry/aved.pdf
  8. Wehman, P., Avelline, L., Brooke, V., Hinterlong, P., Inge, K., Lau, S., & McDonough, J. R. (2017). Transition to Employment. In M. Wehmeyer, & K. Shogren (Eds.), Handbook of research-based practices for educating students with intellectual disability (pp. 450-470). Routledge. 


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