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Autism in the workplace – Bridging the autism employment gap

Heading into work

Transitioning from education to the world of work can be a difficult and daunting task if you are autistic.

According to The National Autistic Society, only 16% of autistic people are in full-time employment, and this figure has remained the same for the last ten years. Many people on the autistic spectrum possess an impressive skill set and can even match or outshine the average graduate.

People with conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome, can be very skilled and extremely employable when the right support, training and level of understanding is provided by an employer. However, many people still report struggling to get beyond the interview stage. They can experience social difficulties at the best of times, meaning a pressured situation such as an interview can heighten stress levels, resulting in a number of issues like extreme anxiety, shyness and an inability to communicate effectively or even at all.

Autism can be hard to detect in a standard recruitment process, leading to unintentional discrimination.

“I’m not unemployable, I’m autistic”

A survey conducted by YouGov and The National Autistic Society had found that some employers express concerns about employing someone with autism. They thought that the person was unlikely to “fit in” within their team or that they were unlikely to be team player.

However, increasingly employers are recognising that autistic people have valuable skill sets which can be applied to the workplace.

In 2016 corporate giant, Microsoft UK launched a scheme to hire more people with autism to boost their diversity after a similar scheme was first introduced in the US. The HR director, Theresa McHenry, of Microsoft said that “by diversifying our workforce and focusing on the particular needs of a small group of people, we find that we can innovate and create a team of broader problem solvers equipped to better understand and meet the needs of our diverse customers”.

So what are the benefits of employing someone with autistic spectrum conditions? 

Many employers are starting to see that candidates with autism are highly skilled as they possess some of the following traits:

• A high level of concentration.

• They can be reliable, conscientiousness and persistent.

• A high level of accuracy, attention to detail and ability to identify errors.

• Very good technical ability like IT skills.

• Excellent memory.

Individuals with autism can feel valued and more independent which in return can have a huge impact on their socialisation with others.

The National Autistic Society started the “Too Much Information” campaign, which challenges the myths, perceptions and stereotypes surrounding autism. With this, employees with autistic spectrum conditions want employers to be more understanding and recognise that they are just as important as every other employee.

This “Too Much Information in the workplace: Our advice to employers” video is part of The National Autistic Society’s “Too Much Information” campaign, it highlights the information people with autistic spectrum condition would like employers to know about employing an individual with autistic spectrum conditions

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