Dozens of Canadian employers are coming together virtually for the annual Spectrum Works job fair, a national initiative that seeks to find meaningful work for people with autism.
According to the Canadian Survey on Disability 2017, 77% of Canadian autistic adults are unemployed. Since its first event in 2017, more than 1,500 people with autism have participated in the job fair.
This year’s event brings together recruiters and hiring managers from major companies including TD, Rogers, Compugen, Salesforce, Auticon, IBM and more. Participants can sign up for interviews for various open positions and have access to job skill workshops, resume and employment consulting and community service provider consultations.
“Hosting a virtual event allows us to reach more communities across the country. It also means we can mitigate in-person crowds and situations that may be stressful for folks who experience social anxiety or sensory overload,” says Neil Forester, co-owner of Substance Cares, the Toronto-based charitable foundation that organizes the annual job fair.
According to Autism Speaks Canada (ASC), the co-sponsor of the event:
- 77% of Canadian adults with autism are unemployed (Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017);
- The 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability found that autistic adults have the lowest employment rates in Canada at 14.3% as compared to the general population at 92.7%;
- The median annual employment income for individuals with autism was $2,900 (Lai, Dunn and Zwicker, 2017);
- Competitive employment, supported employment, volunteer work and purposeful daytime activity all provide structure and community integration which can enhance one’s quality of life;
- Employment can be a critical component for most adults to build full and productive lives;
- Autism is the fastest-growing and most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopment disorder.
Spectrum Works is the brainchild of Forester and his partner Xavier Pinto, whose 11-year-old son Xavi is autistic.
“Our mission for Spectrum Works will always remain the same as we continue to promote our attendees’ talents and some unique skill sets to some of Canada’s top employers,” said Forester. “We want to make sure everyone like my Xavi, can choose the opportunities they want to pursue.”
The event takes place on April 8, and registration is available online.