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Unique workforce-ready tech training for Autistic youth expands across Alberta and Saskatchewan

November 17, 2021

EDMONTON –A program aimed at empowering Autistic youth to gain long-term, meaningful roles in the digital workforce and helping employers create inclusive workplaces is expanding across Alberta and into Saskatchewan.

The expansion comes on the heels of the graduation of the program’s first Edmonton cohort, which progressed 22 youth into employability in the data sector, while building confidence and self-esteem.

“Autistic youth have much to contribute to the digital economy,” says Carolyn Campbell, President and CEO, NorQuest College. “But, despite their interest and abilities, they are often excluded from full participation. We’re so proud to work with partners from across Canada to help create pathways for graduates to contribute to the workforce, on their own terms.”

Skills for the digital economy

Autism CanTech! helps Autistic youth learn entry-level employability and technical skills for the digital economy in fields such as education, finance, government, software, healthcare, and more. Career coaches, autism-friendly program spaces, and RoboCoach assistive technology are among the supports offered to ensure success for learners. This unique program takes a holistic approach to making employment in Canada more accessible and inclusive by working with both Autistic youth and employers to offer learners an education tailored to their individual needs.

“We’ve seen firsthand the dramatic effect the program has on building the skills of graduates,” said Jenna Gauthier, Autism CanTech! Centre Manager. “But it’s remarkable to experience the resilience, relationship-building, and other so-called soft skills that get developed along with the technical training we’ve put together. I’m eager to see this impact continue to grow as the program expands its reach.”

Participants in the Autism CanTech! Program can attend the program virtually from any Alberta or Saskatchewan community larger 17,000 in order to ensure the availability of employer-partners for the paid practicum component of the program.

Employers participating as work experience providers will receive tailored training and support in the use of assistive technology, employment practices, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), and gain motivated entry-level employees with technical skills, employability skills, and unique perspectives to contribute to the workplace. This effort represents a two-fold approach to addressing the underemployment of Autistic youth by focusing on program participants and employers.

Applicants, employers interested in participating, and other stakeholders are encouraged to visit www.autismcantech.ca or contact the program by email at contact@autismcantech.ca or by calling 1-800-405-9519.

The Autism CanTech! partners gratefully acknowledge program funders ESDC-YESS and their support in addressing barriers faced by youth in the labour market.

Media enquiries

Mike Reeves

External Media Consultant

Phone: 780.288.3651

Email: Mike.Reeves@NorQuest.ca