Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Taiwanese Graduate Business Students' Attitudes about the Employability of People with Disabilities

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Taiwanese Graduate Business Students' Attitudes about the Employability of People with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Employment is a central part of humans' lives. Having the opportunity to be employed is an important issue for almost everyone in today's society. Studies have pointed out that employment plays a significant role in assisting PWDs to live independently, gain financial stability, and establish social networks. For example, Priebe, Warner, Hubschmid and Eckle (1998) found that employment has significant advantages for people with schizophrenia in terms of their quality of life including their ability to earn a living and their satisfaction with work and leisure. In addition, researchers recognized that employment not only helps PWDs to improve their skills in the areas of communication and socialization but also allows them to gain financial independence, enhance self-esteem, and be included in their communities (Wehman, Brooke, & Revell, 2007). The studies mentioned above are clear evidence that persons with disabilities can benefit from employment in a variety of ways.

Realizing the importance of employment for people with disabilities, the U.S. government has enacted several pieces of legislation to protect the employment rights of this population over the past few decades. For example, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 coordinates vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs in order to enhance employability and independence of Americans with disabilities (Bruyere & Brown, 2003). In addition, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) not only protects PWDs from job-related discrimination in the public and private sectors, it also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of jobs performed by their employees with disabilities including those related to work environment and equipment (Yell, 2006).

Employment-related laws passed by the U.S. government to support PWDs have inspired professionals from different countries including Taiwan. Many Taiwanese researchers have tried to compare disability-related legislation between the United States and Taiwan to gain a better understanding of how to improve the transition and employment services for Taiwanese with disabilities (Lin, 1998, 2003). The efforts of parents of children with disabilities also prompted the Taiwanese government to realize the importance of employment for PWDs (Lin, 2007).

While several milestone pieces of legislation have been mandated over the past years, different studies have indicated that the passage of employment-related legislation for PWDs has not significantly improved workforce participation in either country (Burkhauser & Houtenville ,2003; Council of Labor Affairs, Republic of China, Taiwan, 2009; Riley, 2006; Szymanski & Hershenson, 2005; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). Researchers have mentioned that negative attitudes held by employers toward hiring workers with disabilities are considered the most significant reason. For instance, Lengnick-Hall and Gaunt (2007) pointed out several reasons why employers might not recruit workers with disabilities; they felt PWDs possessed lower job performance and productivity rates as well as a possible lack of necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities. In addition, Peck and Kirkbride (2001) mentioned the high costs of providing reasonable accommodations and additional supervision as significant factors that lead employers to hesitate hiring PWDs. Comparably, a negative attitude toward hiring PWDs has been recognized as the major reason resulting in lower employment rates among Taiwanese with disabilities (Gao & Ho, 2005).

Other researchers question whether employment decisions are truly made by employers themselves. For instance, Millington, Miller, Asner-Self, and Linkowski (2003) mentioned that staff in several management or human resource positions functioned in employers' roles in terms of selecting, recruiting, training, and supporting employees with or without disabilities in many business organizations. …

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