Who We Are
Autism CanTech! (ACT!) is a national federally funded program that helps Autistic youth gain entry-level employability and technical skills for the digital economy in a variety of different technical roles. ACT! is a six-month program that includes two months of coursework on employability skills, two months of coursework on technical skills to fit one of four specific job categories, and a two-month, paid work integrated learning experience, where it combines one-on-one career coaching and the use of innovative assistive technology.
We are operated through collaborative partnerships with NorQuest College (Edmonton, AB), Douglas College (New Westminster, BC), and Humber College (Toronto, ON), and through a collaboration with Technology North, who have designed and support the assistive technology we provide, known as RoboCoach.
Why We Are Involved
This project is multi-dimensional. While the main mandate of the program is to provide training and employability skills to improve employment for underemployed Autistic youth, there is also a research component to the project that looks to understand the barriers that exist for the Autistic Community to have meaningful employment, and to learn about the experiences of the employers and what supports they need to enhance inclusion and accessibility in their workplaces and employment practices.
To that end, we have also developed an exclusive Employer-Partner training program to give Employers a wider understanding of Autism, and of the supports that exist within our program to ensure that participants in our program achieve success. Our training program also gives instruction to Employers on how to use the RoboCoach, a new assistive technology developed by Technolog North to ensure participants, their parents and/or guardians, and employer-partners all feel informed and supported.
Our entire program has been designed from the lived Autistic experience perspective, and is iterative in nature, always learning from our evaluations and making changes as we learn. The RoboCoach assistive technology is proven in the employment field, with expansions into post-secondary and beyond. While our Career Coaches are always there to provide participants with supports and guidance to help Autistic Youth become gainfully employed within the digital economy.