Today’s Shift: Employer Awareness Event
The SAAAC Autism Centre held its first employer awareness event on May 24. The event was organized to help employers in Toronto learn more about hiring individuals with autism.
“We’re calling the event Today’s Shift because the larger goal of an event like this is to encourage organizations to shift their work culture to incorporate greater diversity, more inclusivity and to consider our students to be part of that process,” says Bharathy Vivekanatham, Employment Assistance Coordinator.
According to a 2013 Ontario study, Canadians with autism are under-employed: 13.9% work full-time, with an additional 6.1% working only part-time.
With the help of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), SAAAC is looking to put a dent in those stats by helping 30 young adults with varying abilities to find meaningful employment in their communities.
“What we want employers to know is that this isn’t a scary or hard thing to do,” says Geetha Moorthy, Executive Director of SAAAC. “Our students and many individuals with autism and other individuals of varying abilities are capable of doing good and meaningful work and can add value to any organization. With the right supports in place, we can help employers integrate these great individuals into their organization.”
Joseph McDonald, President of Autism Ontario – the province’s largest autism education and advocacy organization- was inspired by the turnout, especially the employers. “I want to say thanks for the employers for coming out. I think it’s so important not only for the individuals that you are working with, but other employers to see that example, which creates a snowball effect.”
SAAAC will look to have more of these events throughout the year, educating employers about creating inclusive working cultures and encouraging them to provide employment opportunities for individuals of all abilities.
To the president of SAAAC, Dr. Lindy Zaretsky, the night was the start of something special. “We really look at this as the launch, the beginning of many more events like this. Hopefully we’ll need bigger and bigger rooms because we’ll have more and more success stories to share.”
We are incredibly grateful for our employment partners who are committed to creating more inclusive working environments and giving opportunities to individuals of all abilities. Programs like this are not possible with out committed and passionate businesses.
How to Register
If you like to be part of our employment program, please contact our Employment Coordinator Bharathy Vivekanatham for more information: