Innovative Practice 2021 on Inclusive Employment and ICT

A skills-based approach to matching jobseekers with autism to local employers

Avalon Employment, Inc. is a Canadian NGO based in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador that provides employment services for people with autism and developmental disabilities. In 2010 it launched the Autism Employment Facilitator model, an individual job-matching process focused on identifying skills, both formal and informal, matching the person to employment opportunities and offering follow-up support to individuals and businesses. The model supported 70 to 80 individuals in 2020.

“Working independently is one of my goals. I used to need a job coach, but now I can do this alone!”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Autism Employment Facilitator
Organisation:Avalon Employment, Inc.
Country
of Implementation
Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador), Bangladesh, India, and Nepal
Start Year2010
Sub-CategoryA project of Civil Society

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Avalon Employment has supported individuals to access over 1,750,000 hours of paid employment
  • The Autism Employment Facilitator model has been implemented in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India

PROBLEMS TARGETED

The traditional ‘train to work’ model does not address the specific needs of people with autism.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Jobseekers undergo a two-step process to identify skills using a Jobseeker Questionnaire, which they are encouraged to fill out with input from family, former employers, etc. This helps identify the ‘hidden’ skills that people have gained through volunteer work, hobbies, or social groups such as learning independently, interpersonal skills, and other responsibilities. These interviews also cover preferred work patterns, necessary adjustments, and areas in which an individual would not like to work. From this an Employee Toolkit is developed, which reflects the person’s skills, interests, and support needs, and also outlines the job adaptations and workplace adjustments that are needed.

Avalon then works with local employers to find jobs that match jobseekers’ strengths and interests in industries such as hospitality and tourism, post-secondary education, retirement care facilities, and retail. Relationships with local companies have been developed over Avalon’s 28 years of providing services.

A young woman stands in a car park wearing a maroon jacket and black polo shirt. She is wearing a staff lanyard and looking at the camera and smiling. Behind her is the storefront of Staples.

Kathleen Clarke, an Avalon client, works as a greeter at Staples.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

The Autism Employment Facilitator model is entirely funded by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of its strategy for Autism Supports and Education Models.

Avalon has produced a manual of the model to support adaptation and replication. By 2022 it plans to extend to a further 15 sites in Newfoundland.

The model was also implemented in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India in 2014 as part of a project of Disability Rights Promotion International, a disability rights monitoring initiative based at York University, Canada.

FACTSHEET

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