From education to employment

New review to boost employment prospects of autistic people

woman holding a book
  • Sir Robert Buckland KC MP to lead new Autism Employment Review
  • Focus on supporting employers to recruit and retain autistic people and reap benefits of a neurodiverse workforce
  • Recommendations for change to be brought to Government later this year

A new review designed to boost the employment prospects of autistic people has been launched by the Government to spread opportunity, close the employment gap and grow the economy.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP, has appointed Sir Robert Buckland KC MP to lead the review, which will consider how the Government can work with employers to help more autistic people realise their potential and get into work.

People with autism have particularly low employment rates – with fewer than three in 10 in work – but the Buckland Review of Autism Employment, supported by charity Autistica and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is aiming to change that.

The Review will ask businesses, employment organisations, specialist support groups and autistic people to help identify the barriers to securing and retaining work and progressing with their careers.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Tom Pursglove MP said:

“We know autistic people can face barriers moving into employment and staying there. This is often down to the employers themselves not having the tools to support autistic people, or truly understanding the value of a neurodiverse workforce.

“This important review will provide us with vital information to remove these barriers and help more autistic people start, stay and succeed in work by ensuring more employers provide truly inclusive places to work. I look forward to seeing the recommendations from the review.”

Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland KC MP said:

“I am delighted to have been asked to lead this important Review. Our workplaces and businesses would benefit so much from the huge potential that autistic people represent.  

“If we close the employment gap for autistic people, it will not just mean individual fulfilment but a significant boost to employment and productivity for our country.”

The Buckland Review of Autism Employment will consider issues including:

  • how employers identify and better support autistic staff already in their workforce;
  • what more could be done to prepare autistic people effectively for beginning or returning to a career;
  • and working practices or initiatives to reduce stigma and improve the productivity of autistic employees.

It will focus specifically on autistic people, and aim to develop solutions that: 

  • willbe acceptable to autistic people.
  • will be effective at improving autistic people’s outcomes.
  • will be feasible for employers or public services to deliver

The Review will also look at employers who are benefitting from a neurodiverse workforce, like London manufacturer KwickScreen. The innovative company provides transparent screens to every UK hospital and played a pivotal role in the NHS’s response to the Covid pandemic.

On a recent visit to their Lewisham base, the Minister and Sir Robert discovered many of the breakthrough initiatives in the company came from the neurodiverse members of the team.

Dr James Cusack, Chief Executive of the UK autism research and campaigning charity, Autistica said:

“The benefits for autistic people and society will be huge if we can give autistic people the opportunity to work and thrive in employment. That’s why as a charity we want to see a doubling of the employment rate for autistic people by 2030.

“We are delighted to support the government on this vital review which will enable us to move from awareness to evidence-based action. This will help us to rethink how we approach autistic people’s access to work and perhaps drive a wider rethink around how we accommodate everyone in work, as we all think differently with unique strengths, challenges and needs.”

As part of the review, many of the adjustments and initiatives that would benefit autistic people could also benefit a wider group of people who think differently, including those with other neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

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