2016-10-27 - Government must tackle the autism employment gap
Just 16% of autistic adults are in full time work. Our new research reveals that this figure has remained the same for the last decade, showing that autistic people are not benefiting from Government employment programmes. This has to change.
We're calling on the Government to tackle the Autism Employment Gap once and for all – by introducing specialist support to help autistic people find and stay in work and launching a national programme to raise employers' awareness of the skills and potential of autistic people.Employers can play their part too by accessing our resources and working with us to become Autism Friendly Employers.
Help us spread the word:
How many autistic people are in work?
We surveyed over 2,000 autistic adults, or people responding on their behalf, to ask them about their experiences of finding and keeping a job. They told us:
- only 16% are in full-time paid work. Only 32% are in some kind of paid work (full and part-time combined), compared to 47% of disabled people and 80% of non-disabled people*
- over three quarters (77%) who are unemployed say they want to work
- four in ten say they've never worked.
The UK Government promised to halve the disability employment gap by the end of this Parliament, meaning they have to increase the disability employment rate from 47% to 64%. So, to make sure that autistic people aren’t left behind, the Government needs to commit to doubling the number of autistic people in work.
Our Autism Employment Gap report is our charity’s biggest investigation into employment for autistic people and has told us a lot about what autistic people want from a job, and what support they might need to get it.
What do autistic people need to work?
Not all autistic people are able to work, but, with understanding from their employer and colleagues, and reasonable adjustments to the interview process and workplace, many autistic people can be a real asset to businesses.
When we asked about the single biggest thing that needed to change to help autistic people get into work, over 50% said support, understanding or acceptance. And 60% of employers we polled told us they are worried about getting support wrong and they don’t know where to go to get information about supporting autistic employees.
That’s why today, as well as our report, we're releasing a film highlighting the experiences of autistic jobseekers, and resources for employers, which include information about supporting autistic employees and our new Autism Friendly Employer Award.
The Government needs to make sure that autistic people can get the support they need, from people who understand autism, at every step of their journey towards work. We’re calling on them in upcoming proposals on disability employment.
What can I do?
We need your help to get the Government to pledge to close the Autism Employment Gap:
On launch day, Mark Lever, our Chief Executive, said: "Autistic people have a huge contribution to make to our economy and society, including in the workplace. But they've been repeatedly failed by government and overlooked by employers.
"Various governments have introduced schemes aimed at improving the disability employment rate. But it's not working for autistic people – just 16% are in full-time work and this hasn't improved in almost a decade.
"Many employers tell us they’re keen to recruit more autistic people but they don’t know where to go for support and they’re worried about getting it wrong. It’s clear that we need leadership from the Government to tackle the autism employment gap once and for all.
Our new Prime Minister has called for a country that works for everyone, and that should include autistic people too.
“A national programme to make employers aware of the skills and potential of autistic people would be a good start. But this needs to be accompanied by the introduction of autism-specific support to help autistic people find and stay in work.
“Not all autistic people are able to work. But many are and are desperate to find a job which reflects their talent and interests. With a little understanding and small adjustments to the workplace, they can be a real asset to businesses across the UK. Autistic people deserve that chance.”
Both of these stats are from the Office for National Statistics (2016) Dataset: A08: Labour market status of disabled people (20 July 2016).