From education to employment

Responding to the Buckland Review on Autism Employment

Students working

“If there’s a gap, autistic young people fall through it”, Ambitious about Autism responds to the Buckland Review

The government has today published its Autism Employment Review, led by Sir Robert Buckland KC MP.  The Review looked at the barriers preventing autistic people from entering the workforce and recommends a series of measures to tackle them, including improving access to supported internships, apprenticeships and better practical support in employment. 

Sector Response

Welcoming the review, Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said:

“We know most autistic young people want to work but face stigma, rejection and a lack of opportunity in the current job market. This important review has shone a light on the woeful situation autistic people face and we’re pleased to see its focus on solutions to tackle these problems. 

“As the review notes, access to education is a key foundation of working life, and therefore if we are serious about allowing autistic people greater access to the workplace, the education system must dramatically improve its offer to them. To that end, we would like to see a step change in support for autistic pupils at school – including mandatory training for teachers and careers advice tailored to autistic pupils.  As one of our young campaigners explained, ‘If there’s a gap, we fall down it’. 

“There is now robust evidence that the longer people are out of work, the harder it is for them to gain and maintain employment. We want to stop this cycle before it begins for the next generation of autistic young people, by building a bridge from education into employment.

 “We are therefore calling for the piloting of Employment Health and Care plans, a continuation of the Education Health and Care plans that already exist, which provide a legal obligation for autistic young people to be supported in school where necessary. We believe the same is needed for the world of work, as the requirement for support does not end when a young person leaves school or college.

“We are pleased to see our Employ Autism programme – which offers autistic people paid internship opportunities in autism supportive environments – highlighted in the review. Our programme gives autistic young people a better chance of securing work, and also increases the awareness, attitudes and confidence of employers to benefit from a neurodivergent workforce.”

Shazia Ejaz, REC Director of Campaigns, said:

“We look forward to taking up the government’s invitation to engage on ways to advise on the benefits of autistic candidates, how to remove barriers to recruiting them and how to spread more inclusive recruitment practices.

The opportunity to work with government reflects how we are puttingrecruiters at the forefront of efforts to support more neurodiverse people to find, stay and thrive in work. Our survey last year with Uptimize found that while only 30% of recruiters have knowingly placed a neurodivergent candidate – 70% of recruiters agree there is a high potential of untapped neurodiverse talent pool. We recently published guidance to encourage more inclusive hiring practices with suggestions for employers on how to make everyday activities such as meetings more manageable and inclusive for people with neurodiversity. The REC is also about to launch specialist training to help recruiters adopt good EDI practice overall.

“We expect that today’s announcements by the government and our work will continue to encourage even more recruiters to understand that candidate pools are by definition neurodiverse and we all benefit from making our organisations neurodiverse-friendly.”

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