Everyone deserves the opportunity to access meaningful employment. Working has a positive effect on the individual and their personal circumstances, as well as having a positive impact on wider society.
Even before the pandemic there were many barriers for people with autism trying to get employment. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published new data in February 2021 which show that only 22% of autistic adults are in any type of paid employment. Once someone with autism gets a job, they face more challenges to stay in work. This is due in part to the lack of understanding and support from employers.
This is unacceptable and we need to see it change. In 2020 City Bridge Trust awarded BeyondAutism a grant of £178,400 to improve our employability services. The project created my role as Specialist Vocational Advisor, with a major focus to create an Employability Toolkit, launching this month.
The main goal of our toolkit is to help remove the barriers to employment by offering support to individual jobseekers, their support networks, and employers. It gives practical support options for employers to use in the workplace. We want to see a society where work is accessible for all; this is only possible if employers start making the necessary modifications.
The toolkit was written by experts in the fields of autism and employment, with input from Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, behaviour analysists and vocational specialists. We also worked with our learners and interns, creating resources which work for them. This multidisciplinary approach ensures the full needs of individuals are covered.
In the toolkit there is a vocational profile which puts the individual at the centre, ensuring they have choice and control over their career path. The various assessment tools provided are there to ensure the person’s skills are suited to the job role. These are designed for employers to use as well as individuals and their support network.
As in mainstream education, vocational skills are embedded into our curriculum. Many of the ideas and resources from the toolkit are ones that we use daily in our services. We support learners to create their own vocational profile. They try meaningful work experience placements. We give regular feedback to ensure they gain relevant skills for the jobs they want to pursue. We believe building the foundations for work at this early stage, in such a person-centred way, will help them feel more confident to enter the workforce successfully when they leave education.
Where you come in
It’s time that society makes itself more inclusive. We want to see more autistic people in meaningful employment. We want workplace attitudes to change so that more opportunities are offered. That change can happen today, will you be part of it? Download our toolkit or take our employability training to see how you can help.