In BC, working-age adults on the autism spectrum represent an enormous, untapped source of labour, economic benefit, and human potential. Consider these statistics:
- 1 in 68 births in North America today is a child on the autism spectrum, with the prevalence ever-increasing.
- 9% of the Canadian population today are on the autism spectrum, or approximately 250,000 – 300,000 individuals (1).
- With 13% of the Canadian population (2), BC is home to 32,000 – 39,000 individuals on the autism spectrum.
- 62% of the population in Canada are between the ages of 19 and 65. Applying this to BC, we have approximately 25,000 adults with autism of working age in our province.
- 80% of adults on the autism spectrum are unemployed or underemployed. Applying this to BC, we have 16,000–19,000 people with autism in our province who could be working in some capacity.
Many autistics, though talented and competent in their field, struggle to find employment. They often do not fit the cultural norm of a “typical” employee or understand the social cues most of us take for granted. Can we as a society afford to ignore such a large segment of our population with such significant potential? Why would we?
At Focus Professional Services, our target employees are individuals who are capable and desirous of working in a professional business environment and need moderate to minimal support. If we assume 10% of working-age individuals with autism fit our criteria, our target group in BC is conservatively 2,000–2,400 individuals.
For every month we employ a person with autism, we decrease their dependence on disability benefits while adding their tax contributions and purchasing capacity to the economy. The person on the spectrum is lifted out of poverty to experience a solid, middle-class lifestyle with options, an empowering, confidence-building experience.
Not only do we have a win-win from a business perspective with competent talent providing benefits to our clients, we also have a win-win of a more sustainable economy.
From a social perspective the gains are even more significant, though harder to measure in economic terms. The more we expose ourselves to human differences, embrace diversity, and practice inclusion, the kinder and more tolerant we become as a society. Our ability to be fair-minded and just improves, and everyone benefits.