An autism charity has launched a campaign that aims to give the UK’s 75,000 young autistic people a fighting chance of getting a job by ensuring the right support is in place for them to get meaningful work.
Ambitious about Autism’s campaign, Employ Autism, is calling for substantially improved careers advice, better vocational programmes in schools and colleges to prepare young people for work, and more opportunities for young people with autism to access entry level positions and work experience.
The charity found that less than 1 in 5 young people with autism say they have had good careers advice. Careers advice is crucial to supporting young people to understand their options and prepare for the future. The charity’s Youth Council, which is leading the campaign, found no specific advice from the National Careers Service (NCS) on how to overcome communication barriers to get a job, or access support to stay in employment. The charity is urgently calling for the NCS to produce resources that support young autistic people to find work and then sustain it.
Ambitious about Autism also wants to see the NCS appoint an Employ Autism champion at a strategic level to ensure that all of the organisation’s resources are accessible to young autistic people and disseminated to schools and colleges.
Less than 1 in 4 young people with autism go on to further education beyond statutory age, according to research by Ambitious about Autism. The charity believes that schools and colleges must have the resources they need to deliver a high quality education that provides young people with autism with the training and employability skills they need to achieve their ambitions.
The charity believes that employers also have a crucial part to play by offering meaningful work experience placements, apprenticeships and traineeships to young people with autism. A quarter of young people with autism have had no access to work experience, and only 17% believe that employers are likely to offer someone with autism a job. By undertaking autism awareness training, employers would be better equipped to support these young recruits. Evidence shows that with just a little support, enormous benefits can be gained by bringing young people with autism into the workplace and help employers to see the benefits to their bottom line.
Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: “We hear stories from young people with autism trying to find good careers advice, training or work opportunities but there is very little out there for them. These young people desperately want to build a future for themselves but the support they need just isn’t there and the worst thing is that they are losing hope.
“As a country we spend a huge amount of money each year on educating children with autism and yet, we deny them access to work. In fact, we would save £9 billion per year across the UK if we supported people with autism to access employment. By making training and work opportunities available to them, these changes could bring huge benefits to UK businesses as well as to the lives of young people with autism and their families.”