HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have offered young people with autism work experience as part of an ‘Insight Programme’ developed in partnership with Ambitious about Autism.
The scheme, which ran from Monday 29 June – Friday 10 July, looked at addressing the fact that 85% of adults with autism are not in full time paid employment. :
The two-week programme enabled participants to develop skills and familiarity with an office based workplace, gain support and coaching from managers, and obtain information about different Civil Service employment programmes including Fast Track Apprenticeships and the Summer Diversity Internship Programme.
The scheme had three core elements – work experience, coaching and awareness sessions. Coaching was provided for the young people participating in the scheme, who all received a tailored development plan. Along with broader confidence building and career planning guidance, sessions also focused on strategies for completing on-line tests, application forms, and attending job assessment centres.
Employees at DWP and HMRC were offered workshop-based sessions, providing an overview of autism and how those on the autism spectrum can be supported in the workplace. These sessions, co-delivered by a young person with autism, provided basic autism awareness training to managers.
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism commented:
“With the right support, planning and opportunities from employers, many young people with autism have the ability and desire to work. However, recent figures show that only 15% of people with autism are in full time, paid employment.
“Schemes like this are vital in getting young people with autism into the workplace and we are delighted that HMRC and DWP are ready and willing to take part.”
Janet Hill, Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Team Programme Director added:
“Small changes to the working environment are often all that is needed to support young people with autism and we are keen to make this happen. Ambitious about Autism has been helpful putting this programme together and I look forward to putting all our learnings into practice. We look forward to the benefit this training has provided our staff and to hosting more schemes like this.”
David Nicholson, youth ambassador at Ambitious about Autism and one of the young people taking part in the scheme added:
“Having us involved in this training is great because we can give an insight that no one else can. I am really keen to get started and to help organisations as important as the HMRC and DWP create employment opportunities for other young people with autism.”
Ambitious about Autism (www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk) is the national charity for children and young people with autism. The charity provides services, raises awareness and understanding, and campaigns to make the ordinary possible for children and young people with autism. We exist to enable children and young people with autism to learn, thrive and achieve and through TreeHouse School, The Rise School and Ambitious College we provide specialist education and support.