Government-backed review urges employers to boost support for autistic people

A government-backed review has called for workplace culture changes to support autistic people to start and stay in work.

DWP figures show only around 30% of working age autistic people are in employment, compared with half of all disabled people and 80% of non-disabled people, despite the majority saying they would like to be employed.

Commissioned by work and pensions secretary Mel Stride and led by Sir Robert Buckland KC, the review’s 19 recommendations for businesses and government include:

  • Signing up for the Autistica Neurodiversity Employers Index to access guidance on designing inclusive processes and procedures
  • Encouraging career progression by developing packages of training focused on autistic staff
  • Improving recruitment by ensuring careers advisers can provide appropriate advice to autistic jobseekers
  • Supporting autistic people who are already in the workplace by producing ‘autism design guides’ to create appropriate premises, furnishings and equipment
  • Working with software suppliers to develop IT systems that meet autistic people’s needs

The Buckland Review of Autism Employment was supported by charity Autistica and includes the views of hundreds of employers and autistic people.

Stride said: ‘I want autistic people to have every opportunity to benefit from work, and recognise that businesses and government must come together if we are to create the cultural change needed to move the dial.

‘Backed by the extra employment support provided through our £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan, this report provides employers with practical and inexpensive steps to open up workplaces to autistic people, boost employment rates and, above all, change autistic people’s lives.’

Buckland added: ‘It has been a tremendous privilege to compile this report, and to hear from hundreds of autistic people about their experiences. This is all about them, and we couldn’t have done it without their help.

‘The review can make a truly radical difference to the lives of autistic people and their families. I call on employers and government to lead this change and make these recommendations a reality.’

Mel Merritt, head of policy and campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: ‘This report rightly highlights that significant work is needed to ensure autistic people can get work that matches their ability and meets their needs. The autism employment gap is shocking; with just 29% of autistic people in work, compared to around half of all disabled people and eight in ten non-disabled people.

‘Autistic people tell us that a lack of understanding and negative stereotypes are the biggest barriers to them entering and staying in work, so we welcome the recommendation to create a national campaign to build awareness and the introduction of a multidisciplinary taskforce, aimed at changing employer behaviour.

‘Autistic people have a huge amount to offer employers, and more businesses are now recognising the benefits of having a diverse workforce that is full of people who offer a variety of skills and different ways of thinking. The Buckland review is a step towards the change we need, but a radical transformation is necessary for autistic people to have the opportunities they deserve.’

Image: nito

More on this topic:

You’ve got a friend in me: New Autism friendship scheme launched

Autism crisis sees thousands of children wait years for support


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