Today Ambitious about Autism, the national charity for children and young people with autism, launches its campaign, Employ Autism to tackle this issue. The campaign aims to give the UK’s 75,000 young people with autism a fighting chance of getting a job by ensuring that the right support is in place for them to get meaningful work.
In practical terms, the campaign is calling for; substantially improved careers advice, better vocational programmes in schools and colleges to prepare young people for work, and more opportunities for young people with autism to access entry level positions and work experience.
Ambitious about Autism found that less than 1 in 5 young people with autism say they have had good careers advice. Careers advice is crucial to supporting young people to understand their options and prepare for the future. The charity’s Youth Council, who are leading the campaign, found no specific advice from the National Careers Service (NCS) on how to overcome communication barriers to get a job, or access support to stay in employment. The charity is urgently calling for the NCS to produce resources which support young people with autism in finding and sustaining them in work.
Ambitious about Autism also wants to see the NCS appoint an Employ Autism champion at a strategic level to ensure that all of the organisation’s resources are accessible to young people with autism and disseminated widely to schools and colleges.
According to research by Ambitious about Autism, less than 1 in 4 young people with autism go on to further education beyond statutory age. The charity believes that schools and colleges must have the resources they need to deliver a high quality education which provides young people with autism with the training and employability skills they need to achieve their ambitions.
The charity believes that employers have a crucial part to play by offering meaningful work experience placements, apprenticeships and traineeships to young people with autism. A quarter of young people with autism have had no access to work experience, and only 17% of young people with autism believe that employers are likely to offer someone with autism a job. By undertaking autism awareness training, employers would be better equipped to support these young recruits. Evidence shows that with just a little support, enormous benefits can be gained by bringing young people with autism into the workplace and help employers to see the benefits to their bottom line.
Ian Adam Bellamy, 28, from Essex was diagnosed with autism at the age of 10. He said:
“I attended mainstream school until I was 14 but it wasn’t a good environment for me to learn, in fact, it was a time of great stress and anxiety. I finished the rest of my education at home where I essentially taught myself, although in my final year I received some extra support to get me through my exams. I then attended college, where I was able to get my qualifications and achieve my ambition of going to university. Ultimately, I got my master’s degree in political science. I got this in spite of the obstacles in my way and I thought the worst was over, but trying to get a job was just as lonely and challenging. It took me a year and, in truth, it was a pretty desolate time for me. I applied to many organisations that advertised themselves as welcoming applications from people with disabilities, including autism, but I never even got an interview. I finally got my big break with Ambitious about Autism, where I started an internship in 2013 before joining the staff team a few months later.”
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said:
“We hear stories from young people with autism trying to find good careers advice, training or work opportunities but there is very little out there for them. These young people desperately want to build a future for themselves but the support they need just isn’t there and the worst thing is that they are losing hope.
“As a country we spend a huge amount of money each year on educating children with autism and yet, we deny them access to work. In fact, we would save £9 billion per year across the UK if we supported people with autism to access employment. By making training and work opportunities available to them, these changes could bring huge benefits to UK businesses as well as to the lives of young people with autism and their families.”
Sign up to support The Employ Autism campaign at www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/employ-autism
To see the Employ Autism campaign summary and for details of how to support the campaign, please visit: www.ambitiousaboutautism.org/employ-autism
Notes to editors:
- Ambitious about Autism is the national charity for children and young people with autism. We provide services, raise awareness and understanding, and campaign for change. Through TreeHouse School and Ambitious College we offer specialist education and support.
- Our ambition is to make the ordinary possible for more children and young people with autism.
- Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects 1 in 100 people in the UK. It affects the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them.
For media enquiries or further information please contact the press office on 020 8815 5444.
For urgent or out of office enquiries please call 07850 915716.
 Ambitious about Autism survey (March 2016). All further statistic without footnotes are from this survey
 The National Autistic Society (2012), The way we are: autism
 Office of National Statistics (2015)
 Ambitious about Autism (2011) Finished at School: where next for young people with autism?
 Knapp et al (2007), The Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK