Andrew Gwynne is calling on the Government to do more to close the autism employment gap once and for all. Over 100 MPs attended the launch of a new National Autistic Society report and campaign in Parliament on 31 October, which highlights the shockingly low levels of employment among autistic people and what employers and Government can do to close the autism employment gap.
Gwynne is backing the charity’s campaign, calling on the Government to ensure autistic people can access specialist support to help them find and stay in work, and bring in a national programme to raise employers’ awareness of the skills and potential of autistic people. The parliamentary launch of the campaign comes on the same day as the launch of the Government’s Work, Health and Disability green paper, which sets out its plans to help more people with disabilities and long term conditions into work.
The UK Government has pledged to halve the gap between disabled people’s employment levels and the rest of the population’s by increasing the disability employment rate from 47% to 64%. But the National Autistic Society’s latest research shows that the autism employment gap is even wider, with only 32% in some form of work.
The report, The autism employment gap: Too Much Information in the workplace, reveals findings from focus groups and a survey of over 2,000 autistic adults, or people responding on their behalf:
- Under 16% of respondents are in full-time paid work (static since 2007)*
- Only 32% are in some kind of paid work (full and part time combined), compared to 47% of disabled people and 80% of non-disabled people**
- Over three quarters (77%) who are unemployed say they want to work
- Four in 10 respondents say they’ve never worked
Andrew Gwynne said:
“I’m proud to be backing the National Autistic Society’s campaign which reveals that fewer than 16% of autistic people are in full-time paid work and that this figure appears to have remained stubbornly low for the last decade.
“This clearly isn’t good enough. Government and businesses need to work together to help increase the numbers of autistic people in work. Many autistic people like Max, from the charity’s campaign video, who I had the pleasure of meeting, clearly have much to offer in the workplace. We need to make sure that employers know this and are able to open their doors to autistic people.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said:
“Autistic people have a huge contribution to make to our economy and society, including in the workplace. But they’ve been repeatedly overlooked.
“We need leadership from politicians to tackle the autism employment gap once and for all, and so we are really pleased to have the support of [Name]. Today’s Work, Health and Disability green paper from the Government starts a welcome conversation about how to open up the workplace for disabled people, including autistic people.
“Many employers tell us they’re keen to recruit more autistic people but they don’t know where to go for support and they’re worried about getting it wrong. So we’re pleased that the green paper sees that employers have a key role to play in reducing the disability employment gap. For autism, businesses can follow the growing number of companies, such as GCHQ and Microsoft, which are supporting autistic people into work through specialist recruitment programmes or work experience.”