This shocking statistic prompted Ambitious to take action against one of the biggest - yet largely ignored - issues in the UK today.
Research has shown that whilst millions of young people with Autism have the skills and personality to succeed in the world of work, very few are given the chance to realise their full potential. Many struggle to find employment after graduation, with more than 50% doubting they'll ever have a job. The reasons for this are numerous: stress, lack of confidence, etc. But they're not the only ones with problems.
To this day, there are still employers who don't understand Autism and they feel uneasy about hiring somebody with the condition. This leads to all sorts of discrimination; and sometimes, Autistic employees have lost their jobs as a result.
With all this in mind, Ambitious was determined to make a change.
On February 2nd, the organisation hosted its first ever youth-led national conference at Santander UK, Triton Square, London. The aim was for invited guests - employers and young people - to interact with each other and learn how they could work together to make employability more accessible in the UK.
The event began with Youth Patrons speaking about their personal experiences with Autism in the workplace. Then David Moore (Head of Health, Safety and Well-Being at Santander) gave an account of an Autistic employee who was almost terminated unfairly, because of a misunderstanding with his condition; emphasising the importance of Autism awareness training.
That afternoon was spent conducting workshops. Young people received advice from leading help organisations on subjects like independence, workplace interaction, interview skills, and stress and anxiety management. Whilst Ambitious staff taught employers the benefits of hiring people with Autism.
The day concluded with a Q+A panel discussion; highlighting what steps needed to be taken next and what was already in place (e.g. the Job Centre Plus 'two tick' scheme).
All in all, it was a very productive day. Everyone communicated well with each other; sharing their opinions and giving clear professional advice. Employers left with a firmer grasp on Autistic behaviour; young people were more confident in their abilities; and even Youth Patrons felt closer to their desired jobs - myself included.
The best part is it's not over yet. Ambitious still has big plans for Employ Autism and we intend to promote it throughout World Autism Awareness Month this April.
A lot of heart and collaboration went into putting this campaign together. But none of it would be possible without the support we receive. So to everyone reading this article; all the young people who attended the conference; all the Youth Patrons and staff who gave speeches; and all the employers who took the time to help us make a difference; thank you.
Together let's continue fighting for the day when everyone can succeed in jobs they so rightly deserve.