Improving professional opportunities for autistic people in the UK - Jobcentre plus

30 Dec 21
Young professional smiling and holding up work pass

Improving professional opportunities for autistic people in the UK - Jobcentre plus

In October 2021, Jobcentre Plus offices introduced a pilot scheme across the UK which promised to improve the job chances of thousands of autistic people.

Just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment.

This was the statistic published by The Office for National Statistics (ONS) in February 2021. The National Autistic Society reported the figure, arguing that the government needed to take serious steps with their new autism strategy in order to tackle the employment gap for autistic people. 

Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People, has since said:

‘Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to find a job they love and to progress in their career, but we know we must do more to help people with autism.’

And the government has made some reputable commitments this year...

Line of people sat down, facing camera, holding a piece of paper with a question mark over their face

Opportunities to close the employment gap

Along with the Government’s new Autism Strategy, which intends to improve the lives of autistic people and their families and carers in England, a new package has been put in place.

In October this year, a pilot scheme was introduced to Jobcentre Plus offices across the UK, which promised to improve the job chances of thousands of autistic people.

Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People said:

‘By testing this autism framework and offering new specialist training to our jobcentre staff we are helping to deliver more employment opportunities for those who would otherwise feel locked out, as we work towards seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.’

How will the Jobcentre Plus package be introduced?

  • 15 Jobcentre Plus sites will trial a new framework to become more autism-friendly.
  • 26,000 work coaches are undergoing accessibility training to improve jobcentre services for disabled people.

What is the Framework?

‘The Framework explores how best to support autistic people into employment, including ensuring jobcentre appointments with autistic customers take place in the right environment and educating local employers in the additional requirements of autistic workers.’

Environments will be a consideration throughout the piloting process, with the introduction of more appropriate lighting and quieter rooms for those who feel triggered.

Furthermore, work coaches will implement their new accessibility training, and help providers and employers in their local community understand the additional needs required by autistic employees.

The Framework has been created in partnership with The National Autistic Society (NAS). Christine Flintoft-Smith, Head of Autism Accreditation at the NAS said:

Our framework of best practice has been developed with input from autistic people, specifically for Jobcentres. We want all Jobcentre staff to understand autism, be able to think about their practice and make the necessary changes to the support and environment that autistic people need.’

Sixth form pupil sitting with practitioner, looking at computer screen together

How can you improve professional outcomes for autistic people?

The Autism Accreditation Inclusion Award

The NAS have also created an Autism Accreditation Inclusion Award this year. The award is based on The Autism Education Trust Frameworks for Good Autism Practice, and achieving it allows you to demonstrate the outcomes you achieve for autistic children and young people in your local community.

Transition to Employment Toolkit

We have designed a collection of toolkits with Ambitious about Autism to help more autistic young people access sustainable and meaningful employment opportunities. The collection includes:

  • Transition to employment toolkit
  • Employment toolkit for young people
  • Employment toolkit for employers
  • Employment toolkit for professionals