Purpose: Persons with a developmental disability have the lowest rate of labour force participation relative to other disabilities. The widening gap between the labour force participation of persons with versus without disability has been an enduring concern for many governments across the globe, which has led to policy initiatives such as labour market activation programs, welfare reforms, and equality laws. Despite these policies, persistently poor labour force participation rates for persons with developmental disabilities suggest that this population experiences pervasive barriers to participating in the labour force.
Materials and methods: In this study, a two-phase qualitative research design was used to systematically identify, explore and prioritize barriers to employment for persons with developmental disabilities, potential policy solutions and criteria for evaluating future policy initiatives. Incorporating diverse stakeholder perspectives, a Nominal Group Technique and a modified Delphi technique were used to collect and analyze data.
Results: Findings indicate that barriers to employment for persons with developmental disabilities are multi-factorial and policy solutions to address these barriers require stakeholder engagement and collaboration from multiple sectors.
Conclusions: Individual, environmental and societal factors all impact employment outcomes for persons with developmental disabilities. Policy and decision makers need to address barriers to employment for persons with developmental disabilities more holistically by designing policies considering employers and the workplace, persons with developmental disabilities and the broader society. Findings call for cross-sectoral collaboration using a Whole of Government approach.