What is EmploymentWorks Canada?

EmploymentWorks Canada (EWC) is a newly designed program that offers employment preparedness training for individuals ages 15-29 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), who are no longer attending school and are seeking opportunities to practice and develop the essential skills necessary to obtain sustainable employment.

A training program for young adults with ASD who want to work

EWC aims to improve the employment readiness and vocational engagement of individuals with ASD, while creating awareness of the value and competencies that these individuals bring to the workplace and community.

“Building employment readiness capacity together.”

Developing job skills, expanding horizons and building community capacity.

EmploymentWorks Canada is a peer/co-worker supported program that uses adult learning principals to focus on social, communication and job skills development in a variety of workplace settings and teams.


Impact Story

Maureen shares her experience in the EmploymentWorks Canada program and how it helped her prepare for her job as a prep cook with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation at the Scotiabank Saddledome.


Impact Story

Hilda describes the experience of the EmploymentWorks Canada program for her daughter Jessica, and how it helped her to gain confidence, explore different areas of vocational interest and to develop and practice skills that she will be able to use throughout her life.

Community Partner

Impact Story

Grant, a Sous Chef with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation describes the benefits of partnering with the EmploymentWorks Canada program, and the opportunity it provides to help develop the skills of potential future employees and build industry capacity.

How it works

The EWC program has been designed based on the following themes:

●  Knowing Myself as a Working Person (What are my strengths and interests? What is my plan of action?)

●  Engaging in the Culture of Employment (What does the boss want? How to overcome challenges?)

●  Building My Skills for Employment (How to network; developing social thinking skills)


Individual goals are targeted through a series of structured learning and development activities; exposure to varying workplace settings and teams; and the application and practice of skills through peer mentor support. EWC addresses various areas of employment preparedness training, including self-development, social and communication skills, life skills and confidence building.

A better quality of life

For individuals with ASD, obtaining a job and keeping that job can be a real challenge. The EWC program provides opportunities to develop and enhance employment skills while improving social and communications skills necessary to obtain and retain employment, thereby leading to greater independence and an improved quality of life. The program also aims to foster greater awareness of the value and competencies that individuals with ASD bring to a workplace, leading to greater community integration and social inclusion opportunities for all.

Techniques to support independence

The EWC program is divided into two main components. The first focuses on structured learning and social activities, and the second puts those learnings into practice in through experiential activities in the workplace environments. Techniques, such as video modeling and self-management, are used to enhance work related skills and behaviors and to improve social communication skills and increase independence. “Take away” tasks are designed to foster social connections and provide opportunities for participants to practice and continue to build upon their vocational goals


The EWC program aims to develop the skills necessary to obtain meaningful and sustainable paid employment. Program participants create a “personal portfolio” of customized resources that lists individual strengths, areas for ongoing improvement and development, and focuses on the participant’s overall goals for future employment, education and personal growth. Portfolios can be used by individuals to demonstrate to potential employers that they have what it takes to be successful in the workplace.

Key objectives of EmploymentWorks Canada

●  For participants to acquire and/or advance their employment relevant skills.

●  For participants to develop and work towards achievable employment goals.

●  For participants to build confidence and broaden community engagement for greater social inclusion and enjoyment.

●  For the greater community to build capacity and awareness of the contributions individuals with ASD bring to the workplace, and to identify ways to create autism-friendly work environments and foster success.

●  For mentors/ co-workers to understand the importance of mentorship and how they can support participants’ efforts to achieve employment skills and vocational goals.

What does the future hold?

●  The EWC program will be offered in 5 regions across Canada during the next 4 years.

●  Ongoing sustainability planning to grow and scale up the program will enable more organizations to become providers of the EWC program and positively impact the employment outcomes of individuals with ASD.

●  Increased community and employer awareness regarding the capabilities and contributions that individuals with ASD bring to the workplace.

●  Ongoing collaboration with municipal, provincial and federal governments to provide continuing support for pre-employment and vocational engagement initiatives for individuals with ASD.

●  Opportunities to identify and develop promising practices across the country.

●  Community awareness.

Government of Canada helps create employment opportunities

Since 2006, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities has helped 40,000 people with disabilities across Canada. This is part of the Government of Canada’s overall strategy to equip all Canadians with the skills and training they need to connect with available jobs. To provide more demand-driven training solutions for people with disabilities, the Government’s Economic Action Plan is increasing funding to the Opportunities Fund by $40 million annually. Employers and community organizations will be involved in designing and delivering training projects. Through the Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government is providing $11.4 million over four years to The Sinneave Family Foundation and Autism Speaks Canada to expand vocational training programs for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Visit the government of Canada Website >

Get involved today!


Become a Participant

Participating in the EWC Program can have a positive influence on your life as you transition from school to independent adulthood. If you want to work, and are interested in developing your employment skills, this program will provide you with opportunities to explore your interests and abilities in a variety of different work environments, practice your social and communication skills, and help you get to know your “working self” as you explore the pathway to future employment. If you are between the ages of 15 and 29, are no longer attending school, have a diagnosis of ASD and are unemployed, contact us via the e-mail or phone number below to learn more about applying for this exciting new program.

Become a Peer Mentor

As a Peer Mentor in the EWC Program, you will be providing support to individuals with ASD as they practice and apply skills learned during weekly employment preparedness training sessions. You will have the opportunity to support individuals as they focus on developing their employment skills, while increasing your own autism awareness and knowledge. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 29, and are interested in becoming a Peer Mentor, please contact us today to learn more about this meaningful volunteer opportunity and the impact it can have on you and the employment futures of others.

Become a Workplace Partner

As an EWC Workplace Partner opportunity is knocking! You have the opportunity to meet a work force that are known to be reliable, dedicated employees that can excel in the workforce. ASD awareness training and support will be provided to help educate staff, and tools and simple ideas about workplace modifications will be shared to help guide the creation of autism-friendly work environments. By participating in the EWC program, you will have an opportunity to demonstrate greater community integration, enable ongoing capacity building and realize the valuable contribution that individuals with ASD bring to the workplace.

Share your Experience!

If you are an individual with ASD who is currently employed, self-employed, or an employer to others, we would be interested in chatting with you about your employment experiences, and opportunities for you to share your learnings with participants enrolled in the EWC program. If you are interested in being a possible guest speaker, please e-mail us or call 1-888-733-7976.

Have questions?

Check out the following links for answers to commonly asked questions.

Program Q&A  ASD Q&A

Still can’t find what you are looking for? Call 1-888-733-7976 or email us.