Youth Leadership Initiative.

Future Leaders shaping the Future Workplace

The Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) empowers youth with disabilities to identify, discuss, and find solutions to attitudinal barriers to employment. This project is run by a diverse group of young paid interns including those with disabilities. They work together to perform research and identify barriers, brainstorm solutions, and create a multimedia toolkit that supports both employers and post-secondary students with disabilities in the job seeking process.

We are proud to have partnered with Royal Roads University for this project. Royal Roads University provided an engaging, thoughtful Leadership Foundations program that offered both interns and peer mentors a collaborative environment to communicate and advance their leadership development skills on an ongoing basis.

Read our press release:

YLI Research

After months of survey collection responses & reviews, multiple focus groups and all of your help, in 2021, the Youth Leadership Initiative research shed light on the employment barriers preventing many youth with disabilities from finding and retaining work.

Here’s what 450 Canadians aged 17-29 have to say about their employment journeys.

Our findings:

  • 51% of surveyed youth with disabilities (YwD) aged 17-29 are unemployed
  • The main barriers preventing YwD from getting work include low self-confidence, discrimination, lack of workplace accommodation, and hesitation in disability disclosure
  • Only 56% of YwD are confident in their ability to perform work tasks as well as their colleagues without disabilities
  • 54% of YwD believe they need more hours than their peers to perform work tasks
  • The chances of getting hired jump over 50% when YwD feel confident in their ability to perform job tasks
  • Programs offering vocational training or hands-on work opportunities are more likely to help YwD find work than those only teaching job-search skills

How to get involved

Submit your Feedback

The YLI toolkit is a collective effort between the YLI team and you.

We invite you to explore the YLI Toolkit, use it, and let us know your thoughts by submitting your suggestions or feedback. We appreciate your continued support!

Become a YLI Insider!

Be the first to be notified about the project updates and latest news, including work and volunteer opportunities.

National Advisory Committee Volunteer Opportunity

We are still recruiting employers and young Canadians with lived experiences between the age of 17 and 29 to join us!

  • Do you have a perspective and understanding of the employment challenges post-secondary youth living with disabilities have encountered?
  • Are you passionate about striving for more accessible and inclusive Canadian workplaces?
  • Are you keen on teaming up with professionals and providing your experience or expertise to drive growth and success in the employment journeys of Canadian youth with disabilities?

You may be a great fit for the YLI voluntary Advisory Committee!

The Youth Leadership Initiative is looking for people of all ages across the country to join their Advisory Committee. The Committee has the goal to bring together people passionate about workplace accessibility and inclusion to provide tangible solutions to support Canadian employers and post-secondary youth with disabilities when seeking work.

How YLI Advisory Committee Members support the Youth Leadership Initiative

The four goals of the YLI Advisory Committee are:

  • Understanding the employment challenges youth with disabilities (YwD) face.
  • Fostering the creation of inclusive virtual spaces for diverse and intersectional perspectives on youth employment
  • Providing resources and solutions for attitudinal barriers to employment
  • Overseeing the development and review of an online multimedia toolkit

The YLI Advisory Committee will meet online, via Zoom, and discuss the YLI research findings, and propose solutions and resources that will support youth with disabilities as they look for work.

Ideal candidates:

  • Youth with disabilities between the age of 17 and 29 
  • Professionals from employment agencies or career advisors 
  • Staff members from post-secondary institutes’ accessibility offices 
  • Faculty members from post-secondary institutes (Disability Studies, Psychology, Political Science, Equity Studies, and Woman’s Gender Studies)  
  • Employers from private sectors 
  • Counsellors or social service workers  

Why you should join the YLI Advisory Committee:

  • Contribute ideas to overcome employment barriers
  • Learn through intersectional perspectives
  • Build connections

If you have further questions, please contact us at

To apply, please email your resume and cover letter including:

  • Reasons for wanting to become an Advisory Committee Member
  • Skills that you would like to contribute

Turn your ideas into an actionable plan. Join us today!


Everything you need to know about the YLI
What is the YLI? What inspired us to start this research project? What are the progress & next steps? 
Learn about the YLI project in this 5-minute video.
Meet our YLI Team!
Learn about how this project helps develop our interns as future leaders. 
YLI at Leadership Foundation Program 
Check out this video series and learn about the experiences and knowledge the YLI interns and their peer mentors learned from Royal Roads University’s Leadership Foundation Program.

Resources on the YLI Toolkit webpages, including, but not limited to, the text, graphics, images, links, and other materials are intended for informational and educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. The Disability Foundation and Affiliates do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the linked websites. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk. The information provided on YLI Toolkit webpages are designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your care team. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking medical attention because of something you read or see on YLI Toolkit webpages.

The YLI Toolkit does not offer specific medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call emergency personnel (911) to receive medical attention.