According to the Toronto Enterprise Fund, employment social enterprises are businesses that create training and employment opportunities for people facing barriers to the labour market.
Historically, paid employment opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum have been scarce. Young adults on the spectrum face a difficult time after high school for almost any outcome you choose — working, continuing school, living independently, socializing and participating in the community, and staying healthy and safe. Many of these young people experience what is called a “service cliff” — where supports and services drop off significantly after high school.
Goodness Gift looks to reverse some of these outcomes by providing a space for training and employment for young adults on the autism spectrum. Individuals who are part of the program will participate in the enterprise’s fulfillment operations, including receiving, assembly, and shipping. And as skills grow, employees can look to tackle new roles in inventory management, website maintenance, and sales.
Employment social enterprises also look to provide additional accommodations and social supports to ensure employees are successful in their roles. As part of the Goodness Gift, employees will have a dedicated job coach who will help them understand procedures, learn new tasks, and ultimately master their job role. In addition, employees will have access to workshops, focusing on job-readiness and life-skills training (like how to advocate for things they need, cope with setbacks, and accept feedback).
The intentions of Goodness Gift are two-fold:
• to create an outstanding product that customers will love;
•and to train, employ, and empower individuals on the autism spectrum.
The enterprise is built where profits are funnelled back into the organization to financially support employees and provide them with accommodations needed for successful employment