Skills Training Employment Program (CAN-STEP)

For Autistic youth and adults in the Lower Mainland, ages 16+.

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  • Lower Mainland
  • Youth & Adults (16+)
  • Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
  • Up to 6 hrs/day for up to 11 weeks
  • Moderate ratio of support
  • Employment

Take a meaningful STEP towards employment.

Gain valuable pre-employment skills and hands-on work experience with a focus on the hospitality industry.

Participants will receive up to 5 weeks of classroom training and 120 hours of work experience in the Lower Mainland.*

*Length of classroom training to be determined with Employment Facilitators. A typical work experience placement may last six weeks, assuming a 20-hr work week. Actual length of program will vary by individual.

This program is for anyone age 16+ who self-identifies as Autistic. A formal diagnosis is not required.

What to expect

Led by our Employment Facilitators, Jessica and Nicole, CAN-STEP begins in the classroom:

Participants will be able to select a range of workshops to learn pre-employment skills, such as resume & cover letter building, interviewing, workplace communication, time management and more.

There will be several mandatory workshops that participants must attend. However, participants will have the opportunity to discuss with the employment facilitators the kind of training they would like to receive and select from a range of optional workshops to complement their career goals & employment needs.

Participants will also have the option to gain certifications in courses such as SuperHost customer service training, First Aid, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), FOODSAFE, and more!

  • Five weeks of classroom training*
  • Up to five days per week of in-person classroom training at the CAN Office (1788 West 8th Ave, Vancouver)
  • Classroom format with 8-10 participants
  • Workshops, discussions, group work & individual work
  • Participants will get a lunch stipend when receiving classroom training

Once participants complete their classroom component, they receive a 120-hour work experience placement to be completed over 6 weeks or more.

*Participants can take less than five weeks of classroom training. Length of classroom training to be determined with Employment Facilitators

With a focus on the hospitality industry, possible placements include restaurants, cafes, hotels, theatres, community attractions.

  • Six weeks or more; hours may vary*
  • Opportunities available across the Lower Mainland
  • Transportation and work attire stipends available (eligibility-dependent)
  • Onsite support provided by CAN staff
  • Participants will be placed individually into their work experiences
  • Participants are paid for the hours worked during their work experience placement

*Assuming a 20-hr work week (120 hrs total). If an employer has an opportunity that is less than 20 hrs/week, the work experience may be longer than six weeks

What you need to know

In order to join CAN-STEP, participants must meet the following requirements at the time of the program start.

  • Ages 16+
  • Self-identify as being on the autism spectrum
  • Not registered in secondary or post-secondary school
  • Unemployed or precariously employed
  • Not receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or granted refugee status
  • Legally entitled to work in Canada
  • Committed to the entirety of your chosen schedule
  • Interested in working in the hospitality industry

Questions? Contact us at Other eligibility requirements may apply.

CAN-STEP is an unique program designed specifically for youth and adults on the autism spectrum working towards independence in their career journey.

Our Employment Facilitators, Jessica McDonald & Nicole Kochanowski, are ready to tailor the program experience to meet your needs. They conduct one-on-one career planning and guidance to help discover your strengths, talents, skills, and employment needs.

Our Employer Engagement Coordinator Joel Bennett works with employers to create work experiences and employment opportunities for job seekers.

Our Work Experience Support Coordinator Shideh Manavipour works with participants to ensure they are successful in their placements.

If you believe you may require specific adaptations or accommodations to comfortably participate, contact us at

We’ve recorded an info session that provides an overview of the CAN-STEP program and covers our most frequently asked questions.

Email for a recording.

Kickstart your career!

Our next cohort begins with classroom training from July 29 to August 30, 2024.* Work experience placements start in September 2024.

*Dates may vary if participants decide to take less than five weeks of classroom training.

Apply Today