Autism (including Asperger syndrome) affects over 700,000 people in the UK (more than 1 in 100). Only 15% of people diagnosed with autism are in full-time employment. This compares with around 31% for all disabled people and 57% for non-disabled people of working age in Great Britain. Recent research found that only 10% of adults diagnosed with autism currently receive support to find employment, yet 79% of people with autism on out-of-work benefits want to work. Here, at the National Autistic Society, we are passionate about ensuring people with autism have access to increased employment opportunities.
In the Autism Act 2009 the Government committed to publishing an adult autism strategy to transform services for adults with autism. The government is reviewing this at the end of October and we will keep you informed of the outcomes.
Having an autism strategy has been a hugely positive way forward for people with autism. We believe, employers need to be made aware of the skills of people with autism and how they can be invaluable employees. And so the undiscovered workforce campaign was launched. www.autism.org.uk/undiscoveredworkforce
So, we have an autism strategy and an undiscovered workforce campaign increasing positive awareness amongst prospective employers – great. But what about the support unemployed people with autism are receiving to bridge the ever increasing gap between unemployment and prospective employers? To date mandatory government funded employment support has been shown to be less successful for people with autism due to the specialist support a job seeker with autism may need. We believe it isn’t the lack of skills, enthusiasm or motivation to get a job that is the barrier to employment for people with autism but the abstract concept of ‘appropriate’ communication, interpretation of language and ability to access services.
In the coming months we hope to provide you with our experiences along with the views and experiences of job seekers, employees and employers.
More information about supporting people with autism to find work can be found at www.autism.org.uk/supportedemployment
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