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(UK) 71 percent of ASD people UNEMPLOYED; charity tries to close gap

July 3, 2023, FE News: Closing the autism employment gap

Ambitious about Autism’s Danae Leaman-Hill discusses the barriers preventing autistic people from accessing work, what the charity is doing to support more autistic young people into the workplace and the Buckland Review of Autism Employment.

The employment rate for autistic people is extremely low. Only 29% of autistic people are in any form of employment, compared to 81.6% of non-disabled people. This is one of the lowest employment rates of all disabled groups.

Although many autistic young people want to work, when they leave school there are still many barriers that prevent them from achieving their ambitions. Our survey of over 500 autistic young people and their parents and carers found that 71% of those who are currently unemployed would like to be in work, but less than a third were confident they would be able to find work within the next year.

Worryingly over a fifth said they don’t tell potential employers they are autistic because they are afraid of being treated unfairly, with over 70% saying they don’t disclose they are autistic due to fear of discrimination. These shocking findings reveal just how much more needs to be done to increase employers’ understanding of autism and to stamp out unfair discrimination.

National employment programme for autistic young people: Employ Autism

Employ Autism works with employers, young people and careers professionals to break down barriers and improve confidence about autism and neurodiversity. We deliver training, resources and ongoing mentorship to a wide range of partners across the UK, all with the aim of creating work placements to help more autistic young people into employment.

More than 80% of autistic interns who have taken part in the programme have been offered a contract extension or permanent role following their work placement. Placements are available in a variety of industries, from insurance to hospitality, and over the coming months, autistic young people will take up internships in government departments across the civil service.

We know that for autistic people, employment inequality does not begin and end with access to work. Workplace culture plays a huge part in autistic people’s experience of employment and their sense of fulfilment in their roles. In a national employment survey we conducted, 45% of respondents said their employers’ understanding of autism was poor or very poor and 36% of respondents said they had experienced bullying or harassment at work.

Statistics like this demonstrate the vital importance of awareness and understanding of the needs and differences of autistic people in the workplace. We work closely with our business partners to ensure that reasonable adjustments are put in place for autistic employees and that colleagues are informed of their needs and how best to support them. …

We are calling on our government, opposition and other parliamentarians to commit to ensuring there are no autistic NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) by the end of the next parliamentary term and to set a target to double the employment rate for autistic people by 2030.

As the general election looms, we need to ensure there is commitment and a focus on solutions to transform workplaces and enable autistic job seekers to succeed.


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