ACT! Blog


ACT! Launch Event

March 31, 2021

Inclusive workplaces the focus of new workforce-ready program for Autistic youth.

EDMONTON – Autistic youth, government dignitaries, industry, and post-secondary officials from across Canada were on-hand Wednesday to celebrate the launch of Autism CanTech! The program is a three-year, Canada-wide program aimed at empowering Autistic youth to gain long-term, meaningful roles in the digital workforce and helping employers create inclusive workplaces. Autism CanTech! was launched ahead of World Autism Awareness day on April 2, 2021.

Attendees at the event learned about the program and had the opportunity to view the central facility located on NorQuest College’s downtown Edmonton campus. The centre will host cohorts of up to 30 program participants per term in an autism friendly space designed in consultation with Autistic adults. The space is a program resource that comes complete with assistive technology and physical spaces custom-built to support the program and its participants in workshops, skill development opportunities, employment connections, mentorship programming, and larger community connections.

“Autistic youth have much to contribute to the digital economy,” says Carolyn Campbell, President and CEO, NorQuest College. “But, despite their interest and abilities, they are often excluded from full participation. We’re so proud to work with partners from across Canada to develop and launch the Autism CanTech! program and help create pathways for graduates to contribute to the workforce, on their own terms.”

Developing skills for tomorrow’s economy

Autism CanTech! helps Autistic youth learn entry-level employability and technical skills for the digital economy in fields such as education, finance, government, software, or healthcare. This unique program takes a holistic approach to making employment in Canada more accessible and inclusive by working with both Autistic youth and employers to offer learners an education tailored to their individual needs. By working in small class 
environments to develop practical and job-transferable skills, Autistic youth develop the employability and technical skills that they need to succeed in the workforce.

The three-year pilot project funded by the Government of Canada’s Economic and Social Development Canada Youth Employment Skills Strategy (ESDC-YESS) will take place at sites in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. Participants graduate after four months of coursework and two months of work experience in which they are supported by innovative assistive technology and one-to-one career coaching.

Employers participating as work experience providers will receive tailored training and support in the use of assistive technology, employment practices, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), and gain motivated entry-level employees with technical skills, employability skills, and unique perspectives to contribute to the workplace.

"Technology North is very excited to be a leading partner on the ACT! Project,” says Ling Huang, President and CEO of Technology North Corporation. “The outcome will create a successful example of quality, sustainable employment in the digital economy for youth on the autism spectrum, improving quality of life, independence, and raising the happiness of Canadian families.”

The program is full for its Spring 2021 cohort, but applicants, employers interested in participating, and other stakeholders are encouraged to visit or contact for future opportunities, including Fall 2021 program delivery.

The Autism CanTech! partners gratefully acknowledge program funders ESDC-YESS and their support in addressing barriers faced by youth in the labour market.

Mike Reeves
Media Relations Consultant NorQuest College

About NorQuest College: NorQuest College is Edmonton’s community college serving over 19,000 students annually throughout the province with full-time, part-time, online, and face-to-face learning options. NorQuest helps learners with diverse educational backgrounds complete or further their studies through foundational programs. Our post- secondary diploma and certificate programs and continuing education options offer rewarding career paths in health, community studies, business, environment,
technology, hospitality, firefighting, and diversity and inclusion training. Our suite of customized and corporate training options ensures organizations and their workforces are prepared for the demands of the future. By collaborating with business, industry, government, and communities, we ensure our learners receive workforce relevant, inclusive, and transformative educational experiences.

NorQuest College
Edmonton Campus

10230 108 St NW
Edmonton, AB T5J 4Z7

Douglas College
New Westminster campus

700 Royal Avenue 
New Westminster, BC V3M 5Z5 

Humber College
North Campus

205 Humber College Blvd,
Toronto, ON  M9W 5L7

Program information

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Treaty Acknowledgement


The ACT! Program is honoured to teach and learn across many traditional and treaty lands including the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt (KuhKite) and Kwikwetlem First Nations to the West; through the treatied lands and traditional territories of the Nehiyawak, Dene, Stoney Nakoda, Nakota Sioux, Tsuutina, Annishnabe, Metis, and Inuit; all the way to the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit in the Place of the Alders along the Humber River Watershed in the East. The Autism CanTech! Team is dedicated to ensuring that Indigenous voice is centered, honoured and respected. In this spirit, we invite you to reflect on your relationship to the lands on which you are currently located, and take action for positive change in your community in this time of reconciliation.