Overcoming barriers, the Be Your Own Boss training program brings co-operative business development and personal skills training to 15 unemployed young adults who experience limits due to disability like Autism or mental health challenges. Local partnerships, specialized teaching approaches, and strategies for resilience result in empowered individuals who create the jobs they want, the workplaces they need, and the new services their small communities require, transforming lives and outcomes.
Adults with disabilities or mental health challenges have high unemployment rates (in Canada 88% of those with Autism and 70-90% living with serious mental illness are unemployed). Employment training programs rarely address their special needs for employment success (e.g. interpersonal and self-management skills-building, modified workplaces for Autism; ongoing self-care strategies for mental health). These willing workers are excluded, isolated and made to feel like they are the failures.
This program utilizes best practices for Autism, tried-and-true strategies for self-management and mental health, and blends them with a traditional training for Co-operative Business Development. Partnering with local agencies already serving these populations, BYOB identifies the most motivated participants, strengthens these partners, and then enables wider community support through long term commitment long after the training period is completed.
This difficult-to-employ population will be empowered to set their own course, working at the work they choose, in the type of workplaces that work for them. Local communities will have creative new businesses strengthening the economy, persistent poverty will be overcome, and new community leaders will demonstrate resilience and hope.