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Autistic work experience and employment

Work experience and employment

Autistic young people want a chance to prove themselves in the workplace – just like everybody else starting out in their career. But sadly we know that getting a foot on the employment ladder can be harder for these young people. 

Around 700,000 people in the UK are autistic and yet just 21.7% of autistic adults are in full or part-time paid employment. 

Increasingly employers are starting to understand the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce - and are seeking employees who can offer different ways of thinking and problem-solving.

Work experience is an important way for all young people to build an understanding of, and confidence in, the world of work. For autistic young people this is especially important in helping them adapt to and understand the 'rules' of different working environments. 


Autism Exchange programme

Ambitious about Autism runs an award-winning programme called Autism Exchange for autistic people aged 16-25 providing opportunities to access paid work experience with the Civil Service and other leading organisations and companies. 

Ambitious about Autism trains college and university staff, as well as employers, so that autistic young people are supported every step of the way – from careers guidance and help applying for the placement to on-the-job training.

The impact of Autism Exchange on the young people who take part cannot be underestimated. It shows them they can thrive in a workplace that supports them, and gives them the confidence to kick-start their career journey. 

It also helps employers come away with a greater insight and understanding into autism and how they can help increase neurodiversity in the workforce.

If you are a young person interested in work experience opportunities, a careers advisors looking for opportunities or an employer interested in potentially offering placements - find out more about our Autism Exchange programme.


Supported internships 

Ambitious College also offers a supported internship programme. The scheme is open to young people aged 19-25 with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, autism or learning difficulty, who would like the opportunity to learn about the workplace by being in work. Find out more information about our Supported internship programme


Employ Autism

Our Employ Autism network has been developed to build on the success of Autism Exchange on a national scale. We are creating local partnerships in six areas across England to support autistic young people move successfully from education into employment. Through our Employ Autism network, we can make a real impact nationally, breaking down the obstacles to employment for autistic young people across the country.

The Employ Autism network will adopt a holistic approach and bring together young people, families, educationalists and employers to support autistic young people make the transition from education to employment. In 2019-20 we will be starting with our first three Employ Autism networks in Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire.

By 2021 we will have established six regional Employ Autism networks across England. Each of these will include local infrastructure to ensure sustainability and partnerships including post-16 education providers, employers, third sector organisations and local authorities. Find out more about Employ Autism network and how you can get involved.