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Employment scheme to help workers with autism

Employers willing to provide work and training opportunities for people with autism are being offered support and advice through a new scheme being piloted by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

For employers who can offer work, training, work placements or volunteering opportunities, the scheme will provide a range of advice and support, both before and during employment.  

Many people with autism have a variety of often exceptional skills. These can enable them to thrive in roles ranging from sales assistant to computer programmer, and from journalist to statistician. However, difficulties sometimes experienced with social skills, combined with and a lack of understanding by the public, can mean they are often disadvantaged when it comes to getting, and keeping, a job.

The Royal Borough’s scheme to work with employers recognises that people with autism may experience problems with communication, social interaction and changes in routine, and may need some simple support within the workplace. Nevertheless, many do well in jobs that require these skills, including some in senior positions. As well as their individual strengths and talents, candidates with autism often demonstrate above-average skills in some or all of the following areas:

  • high levels of concentration
  • reliability, conscientiousness and persistence
  • accuracy, close attention to detail and the ability to identify errors
  • technical expertise, such as in IT
  • detailed factual knowledge and an excellent memory.

The pilot scheme in Royal Greenwich is being developed by a partnership of agencies working alongside the Council, including GLLaB (the Royal Borough’s employment scheme), the Department of Work and Pensions, the Camden Society, SEEC (Social Enterprise Employment Company) and the Greenwich branch of the National Autistic Society.

The scheme will offer people with autistic spectrum conditions a range of services to help them develop the confidence and skills for work. A dedicated online resource centre will support them in their search for work, training, work placements, apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities. 

Cllr David Gardner, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said, “People with autistic spectrum conditions are capable of doing any job just as well as - if not sometimes better than – other people in the community. Indeed, people with autism often have very valuable skills that can be applied in the workplace, although they may need support in some areas.

“Employers who offer work or training to people with autism stand to open up new possibilities for their organisation, and for people with disabilities. I would urge local employers to get in contact to find out more about Greenwich’s pilot scheme, and of the difference that it could make for your organisation.”

Support for employers who are interested in employing someone with autism can include:

  • advice on making the  recruitment process autism-friendly
  • help with ensuring that the advertising and interview process are accessible to people with autism
  • help in setting up up work trials if requested
  • advice on adapting the workplace for people with autism
  • providing access to job coaches or support workers for employees with autism.

If you’re an employer interested in learning more about the pilot, please contact Claire Hedderman, 020 8921 2443

  • According to the National Autistic Society, only 15% of people with autism are in full time employment, despite the fact that 79% of people with autism on out of work benefits want to work.