Worktopia

Improving Employment Futures for Individuals with ASD

Worktopia is a unique, federally funded national initiative designed to improve employment readiness and enhance the employment skills of youth and young adults ages 15-29 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as they transition from high school to independent adulthood.

The aim of Worktopia programs is to create opportunities for individuals with ASD to explore their job interests and abilities in a variety of community and workplace settings, while developing the skills necessary for future employment success.

Worktopia also aims to positively influence community and employer awareness regarding the capabilities and value that individuals with ASD bring to the workplace it increase inclusion opportunities, engage a productive new talent pipeline and build capacity in our communities.

The initiative is being led by The Sinneave Family Foundation and Autism Speaks Canada, and 12 partner organizations have been engaged in 7 provinces across Canada to deliver three different program streams.  A brief description of each program is provided here, and the names/locations of each partner can be found on the Worktopia website noted below.
 
CommunityWorks Canada® is a peer supported pre-employment program for teens and young adults with ASD ages 15-21 who are currently attending high school. The program is delivered during after school hours and provides participants with opportunities to develop and practice basic job skills, improve social and communication skills, acquire valuable work experience, cultivate potential areas of interest for future employment and make new friends.
 
EmploymentWorks Canada offers employment preparedness training for individuals ages 15-29 with ASD, who are no longer attending school and are seeking opportunities to develop the essential skills necessary to obtain meaningful and sustainable paid employment. It is a peer/co-worker supported program that focuses on the development and practice of social, communication and employment skills in a variety of real workplace settings.
 
SchoolWorks Canada offers vocational skills training to teens ages 15-21 with ASD who are currently attending high school. The program compliments existing school curriculum by adding elements unique to the learning needs of individuals with ASD, increases social inclusion opportunities and enhances skills development through peer mentorship. The program also provides supported community work experiences to help participants prepare for the transition to adulthood and future employment.
 
Funding for Worktopia has been provided in part by the Government of Canada’s Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities Program, with a commitment of $11.4 million over 4 years to support the set-up, implementation and evaluation of the Worktopia programs across Canada.
 
“The Government of Canada is committed to providing Canadians with disabilities access to the skills and training they need to connect with available jobs. Projects like Worktopia provide increased opportunities for employment while increasing employer awareness about the valuable contribution persons with disabilities make to the workforce.” - The Honorable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
 
For more information about Worktopia and the programs available, please visit www.worktopia.ca.