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Inclusive Employment: CAN partners with Ready Willing & Able

April 7, 2020

According to a recent Canadian Survey on Disability, approximately 86% adults with autism are unemployed nation-wide. In order to address this disparity, we have made inclusive hiring a priority within our own organization. As a result, we have benefited from the abilities of 18 staff with autism and 34 volunteers with autism in the past year. But we recognize the need to expand this impact beyond our walls.

That’s why Canucks Autism Network (CAN) has partnered with Ready, Willing and Able (RWA), an inclusive hiring initiative funded by the Government of Canada.

The goal of the RWA program is to engage, educate and support employers to hire individuals with autism or intellectual disabilities. We joined RWA as a program partner alongside Inclusion BC – with CAN delivering the program for individuals with autism and Inclusion BC supporting those with intellectual disabilities.

In order to support this new initiative, we hired two new staff to our Employment Team – Employment Engagement Specialist Ross MacMillan and Navigator of Youth and Adult Services Sarah Armstrong. Together with Manager of Employment Initiatives Robbie Hsieh overseeing the program, the trio has been busy laying the groundwork for CAN’s delivery of the initiative.

Given the current health situation with COVID-19, we recognize that the employment landscape has rapidly changed.

Working remotely from home, Robbie, Ross and Sarah remain committed to connecting with employers, job seekers and agency partners during this time. As a team, we are actively exploring new ways to champion inclusive hiring in the current employment climate.

CAN’s RWA team: Sarah Amstrong, Robbie Hsieh & Ross MacMillan

Employer Engagement

Starting this past September, Ross MacMillan has engaged with numerous employers to build their interest and competency to hire individuals with autism. This work includes connecting employers with qualified candidates, providing disability awareness training and directing them to on-the-job supports.

As a result, CAN has already received inclusive hiring commitments from organizations like Aquilini Investment Group, SAP, Great Little Box Company and Meridian Farm Market.

If you are an employer or know of an employer that would like to discuss inclusive hiring, please contact Employment Engagement Specialist Ross MacMillan at [email protected].

We would especially love to hear from those who many have remote employment opportunities.

Supporting Job Seekers with Autism

Beginning this past December, Sarah Armstrong was promoted from her position as Youth and Adult Program Coordinator to Navigator of Youth and Adult Services – shifting her focus from CAN programs to supporting job seekers with autism through RWA.

Through community outreach, Sarah connects autistic youth and adults with supports and services that can improve their transitions to employment, independent living and community access. Since January, Sarah has engaged in over 30 outreach activities and has already connected 14 youth and adults to supports in their community.

During this time of uncertainty, Sarah is available to connect with job seekers to best prepare them for employment opportunities once the health situation in our community improves.

Are you looking for employment in the Metro Vancouver area? Do you identify as being on the autism spectrum? Connect with our Navigator of Youth and Adult Services, Sarah Armstrong, by filling out an Intake Form or at [email protected].

Moving Forward

Our vision is for every individual with autism to be understood, accepted and supported in all community spaces. This includes our workplaces.

By collaborating with job seekers, businesses, employment service providers, other autism organizations, educational institutions and families, we firmly believe that we can build that future together.

For more information, please visit canucksautism.ca/rwa.

Additional Reading

Learn more about what #WeBelieve
During these uncertain times, the world seems to be changing on a daily basis. So during Autism Acceptance Month, we will be focusing on one of the things that will not change. Our values.

Changing my thoughts about autism
Sylvain is a CAN participant, volunteer and now — staff member. Read the speech he gave at the Canucks Alumni Charity Golf Tournament.

CAN youth and adult members take the lead
We asked our participants what programs they wanted to see CAN deliver. This is what they said.

Meet Siobhan: CAN participant & part-time employee
Siobhan has benefited from CAN programs for years. Now CAN is benefiting from her skills in the office.

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