Newbury College and University Centre Newbury have teamed up with Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce to encourage employers to help create a society that works for autistic people.
As part of the 60th World Autism Acceptance Week, West Berkshire’s primary providers of career-focused education and training, have used their social media channels to promote change and highlight some of the strengths that autistic people can bring to business.
Autism is a lifelong disability that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are approximately 700,000 autistic people in the UK, however, only 22% of autistic adults are in employment.
Director of Business and Partnerships, Dr Jo Houghton, said: “We believe that disability should never be a barrier to meaningful employment. Through our network of partners and our social media channels, we are challenging some of the traditional practices that employers use to recruit staff, and supporting them to hire in new and innovative ways.”
With just a little more acceptance, understanding and a few simple adjustments, more autistic people would be able to enter the workforce and put their amazing talents to use. Angharad Kerr, Electrical Installation Tutor at Newbury College, said: As an autistic employee of Newbury College I've found nothing but support from everyone. I especially love teaching, as it gives me a level of communication with my neurodivergent students that allistics don't get.”
Newbury College and University Centre Newbury also work with employers to provide work experience and apprenticeship opportunities that consider students' abilities, talents and career aspirations.
A free online course in Understanding Autism is available via the College’s distance learning provision Study Online. This free programme can help employers and their employees to adjust their existing practices and learn how to support autistic people in the workplace.
Simple steps that employers can take include giving clear instructions and putting important points in writing, not relying on body language or facial expressions to communicate, and giving anxious or agitated colleagues space and time to process information.
To sign up for the free online Understanding Autism or for more information see bit.ly/SOAutism