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Employer toolkit to support staff with autism launched

Two charities have set up a new initiative to assist young people with autism move into employment after finishing school.

Ambitious about Autism and The Autism Education Trust have created the Transition to Employment toolkit to help prevent autistic school-leavers from dropping out of education, employment or training. 

According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) research, over 700,000 young people are currently not in employment, education or training.

Job seekers with autism are among the most disadvantaged, with just 22% of people with autism in full-time paid employment, the lowest of all disabled groups. 

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said it is crucially important employers provide meaningful opportunities for young people with autism as many of them never progress from education into employment.

She told HR magazine: “In the UK, only 22% of people with autism are in full-time employment, and despite this low number we know that many autistic candidates want to work, but do not get the chance to prove themselves."

Lasota said as businesses adapt to new ways of working, there has never been a better time to think differently about not only how to recruit, but who to recruit. 

“The pandemic has transformed working lives, with many millions of us now working from home and meeting colleagues virtually.

“This is a key moment to support more neurodiverse candidates into employment,” she said.

The new toolkit provides HR professionals with resources and downloadable templates to help them understand more about what autism is and what adjustments can be made to support autistic job seekers.

Lasota explained: “There is a dedicated section for employers with information on how to support autistic candidates to do their best in interview processes, through to how to make adjustments in the work environment that will benefit neurodiverse employees.

“Small changes can make a huge difference and increasing recruiters’ autism knowledge and confidence could transform the job prospects of a generation of autistic young people."

Sarah Broadhurst, director of the Autism Education Trust, said as the number of children diagnosed with autism rises, the number of young people with the condition entering the job market has also increased.

She said: “Autistic young people are full of aspirations and have big plans for the future, as all young people do, but very often encounter difficulties during their first steps into employment because recruitment processes are not catering for their different skills and needs. 

“This new resource gives practical help and tools to employers, post-16 professionals and young people for every step of the way from preparing an employee profile all the way to post-placement evaluation.”

All the resources are free to download, edit and adapt from Ambitious about Autism’s website. 

Why having a neurodiverse workforce is important:

Why employers need to reconsider autism in the workplace

What does ‘coming out’ as autistic tell us about neurodiversity?

Why firms are embracing neurodiversity