Ambitious About Autism

Supporting young people with autism into work

Only 16% of adults with autism work full time. Yet, over three quarters (77%) who’re unemployed say they want to work. We’re supporting a programme that’s helping close this gap and enabling more people with autism to get jobs.

In 2019, we gave a grant of £18,622 to Autism Exchange, an employability programme for young people with autism.

The programme is run by Ambitious About Autism, the national charity for children and young people with autism. They provide services, raise awareness and understanding, and campaign for change. Through TreeHouse School, The Rise School and Ambitious College they offer specialist education and support. Their ambition is to make the ordinary possible for more children and young people with autism.

Autism Exchange offers paid work experience for 16 to 25 year olds in leading companies and organisations. It also provides tailored careers advice and support, before, during and after each work placement. As well as helping young people identify their interests and skills, they work with them to compile CVs and prepare for placements. Autism Exchange continues to support participants for three years to help them achieve their employment goals.

  • Only 16% of adults with autism are in full-time, paid employment.
  • The Autism Exchange programme will use our grant to give employment support to 85 young people with autism, 55 of whom will access work experience.
  • 8 employers and 160 employees in London will increase their understanding of autism and confidence in supporting autistic colleagues, thanks to the scheme.

Improving autism awareness in business

“It helped me feel more like an adult in a lot of ways,” says one Autism Exchange participant.  “To be treated like another employee has really helped my confidence.”

The programme has the support of some of London’s top employers, including the Civil Service, Santander and Deutsche Bank. Employers receive training to help them feel more confident hosting Autism Exchange interns. This focuses on tackling misconceptions and improving their overall autism awareness as a company – which will enable them to continue employing people with autism in future.

“Before the placement, we were given a list of the candidate’s stresses and some of their coping mechanisms,” says one of the programme’s employers. “It meant we could identify if they were having an issue.” The placement was a big success for the company. “The work our intern was putting out was beyond the standard of a graduate with no experience of the agency.”

“75% of young people with autism effectively retire on leaving school. Would we expect or accept this outcome for any other young people in a modern, vibrant society. We need young people to have the right support in education to plan their future and cross the bridge to employment. For this to happen, we need more employers to recognise these young people’s talents and make the changes to their employment practices to give them a fighting chance. Autism Exchange is a key part of our strategy to make this happen and fundamental to our plan to enable young people with autism to learn, thrive and achieve.”

Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive, Ambitious About Autism

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