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Why disabled workers can benefit from hitching their gig to the new economy 

  • Joanna
  • June 8, 2017


Why disabled workers can benefit from hitching their gig to the new economy 

1. a light two-wheeled carriage pulled by one horse
2. a job, especially one that is temporary


A lot of folks lament the growth of the so-called “gig economy.” And sure — from taxes to insurance to retirement savings — there’s plenty to be concerned about when it comes to careers built on part-time contract and freelance work.

But growth is growth. And the growth of gigs can’t be disputed or turned back. Those who are able to successfully navigate the gig world are going to be better off than those who aren’t. And that’s especially true when it comes to workers in need of vocational rehabilitation due to disability.

Individuals who have seen their careers sidelined by chronic injury or illness can particularly benefit from learning how to compete for work-from-anywhere gigs, including writing, editing, bookkeeping, graphic design, tutoring, research, customer service and data entry. That’s because many of these jobs don’t require travel to and from a workplace, and work can be scheduled and completed around medical appointments and periods of acute illness.

The challenge? By and large, training for these sorts of jobs — and vocational rehabilitation for all sorts of other careers — has traditionally been place-based. And for all the reasons that a work-at-home job can be perfect for someone struggling with long-term health issues, scheduled training requiring to-and-from travel can be a non-starter.

Online training can be a particular boon for states like Minnesota, where waiting lists are growing for vocational rehab services intended for workers with disabilities. Meanwhile, as MinnPost observed in February, about 40 percent of U.S. workers are expected to “go gig” by 2020.

Just as online jobs aren’t perfect for every disabled worker, online training isn’t a panacea. But if it’s not part of every community’s efforts to help disabled individuals find work, a lot of people will be missing out on an opportunity to hitch their gig to the new economy.