EmploymentWorks Canada: Empowering neurodiverse adults in the job market
EmploymentWorks Canada is a federally-funded program offered through the Miriam Foundation that prepares neurodiverse adults for employment. The initiative is currently enrolling students in English and French for a winter program scheduled to start at the end of November. A spring session is also being planned.
This three-month program is offered in-person, instructor-led online or in a self-paced eLearning format. It is designed to bring together participants two to three times a week for a total of six hours a week.
In addition to workshops on strengthening CVs and performing well in interviews, EmploymentWorks also seeks to build a community of support to increase confidence and focus. Through discussions and activities, participants “get to know themselves better and learn what their strengths, values and likes are, and what they can do in the world,” said program coordinator, Martine Kurtzweg.
Since its launch in 2017, the pre-employment initiative has offered eight program cycles to 70 young adults with autism, boosting their employment potential with job coaching and hands-on work experience. Over half of those have since landed employment opportunities or have continued in school, according to the program coordinators. Additional cycles are being added for 2022-23, in collaboration with employability centres such as Action main-d’œuvre, L’ÉTAPE and Agence Ometz.
“The goal of the program is to help participants develop their soft skills to work and understand the terms of a workplace: what does it mean to work? To find a job?” explained Kurtzweg. Soft skills include learning time management and organization, conflict resolution, managing anxiety and understanding social codes and cues. An interactive mix of structured learning with role playing and “job sampling” allows participants to explore a variety of work environments.
Community collaboration is key to the program’s success with more than 25 local businesses and organizations partnering in support of inclusive workplaces. From The Depot Community Food Centre and the Redpath Museum, to Air Canada and Desjardins, a variety of opportunities are available for different abilities and interests.
Beyond the tangible skills taught, the program also aims to boost self-confidence. As explained by parent W. Gimour, EmploymentWorks “helps participants realize their strengths as well as their potential.” In a video testimonial, participant Robert Girolami shared, “the 12-week program has allowed me to gain new skills and tools, which will help me find the perfect job...and be ready for the workforce.” He continued, “I am ready for the next chapter in my life.”
For information on the program, visit https://employment-works.ca/.