Edmonton-born programs tap talents of neurodivergent workers

Edmonton-born programs tap talents of neurodivergent workers

· The Pulse

Episode 38 of Bloom takes a look at a couple of innovative organizations in Edmonton that help people with autism find work that makes the most of their abilities.

Autism CanTech! provides training and support to connect autistic youth between the ages of 18 and 30 with opportunities in the digital economy.

"We know that there's so much that these young people have to contribute. And we know that there's so many barriers they face in education and in gaining employment," said Jenna Gauthier, manager of the program based at NorQuest College.

Autism CanTech! prepares students for work in data analytics, digital asset management, and audio post-production. It recently received a Higher Ed XR Innovation Grant from Unity Social Impact and Meta Immersive Learning to explore adding skills involved in extended reality to that list.

Hiring neurodivergent learners is good for business, said Gauthier, citing the example of a student who was hired after completing his work experience and within a week created a more efficient process for his employer.

"It's an intelligent decision to be bringing neurodiversity into your workplace," she said. "It is going to bring amazing perspectives into the work you do and really help drive innovation within your organization. And in tech in particular, that's really key."

Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton also catches up on a raft of news about Technology North, which developed a piece of assistive technology called RoboCoach and employs people with autism to provide high-quality services. Learn more about the awards that founder Ling Huang has recently received and the accelerator he has just completed in the Nov. 17 episode.