AutismAble Hilary MorganAn autistic woman who graduated from a skills training course has now been taken on by the training provider to support other people taking the course.

Hilary Morgan (pictured), 21, from South Shields, who has an autism spectrum condition as well as spina bifida and uses a wheelchair and crutches, completed a skills training course with AutismAble and has now been taken on as an apprentice by the organisation to support others.

AutismAble works with young people aged 16-24 to help them fulfil their potential, providing free full- and part-time courses in skills to help prepare them for employment, and in vocational subjects ranging from art, photography and film making to business studies and customer services. Free education and training is available up to the age of 24 for anyone with a learning disability.

The courses aim to prepare young people for the world of work, secure a job and prepare them for a better future.

Morgan is the first learner to be taken on after completing the skills course, which covers subjects such as preparing a CV and personal statement and looking at students' ambitions and how they can achieve them.

Morgan completed the skills course last year, followed it up with a work placement and voluntary work at AutismAble and then secured a full-time apprenticeship, managed by School Apprenticeships.

“This is my first ever paid employment and I get first class support from Andrew and his team,” she said. "My job as an apprentice is to support the class of learners, helping with their spelling and numeracy, and helping with administrative duties.

“I'm getting a wide variety of experience with the learners – the group needs different types of support from practical things like reading, to emotional support. It's built up my confidence massively.

“This is a non-discriminatory role and doesn't hinder me because of my disability.”

Once she has completed her apprenticeship, Morgan wants to get a job as a teaching assistant.

AutismAble education manager Andrew Forster said: "It's great to have Hilary on the team. Because she has already taken the skills course herself, she can really relate to the current learners and support them as they study.

“AutismAble is now aiming to take on at least one apprentice a year from our learners and we hope to lead other employers by our example.”