MP backs campaign to close autism employment gap

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Mid-Derbyshire’s MP has backed a campaign calling on the Government to do more to help people with autism access job opportunities.

Pauline Latham attended the launch of a new National Autistic Society report and campaign in Parliament on Monday, October 31.

The report highlights the low levels of employment among autistic people, and sets out measures employers and the government could take, including specialist support services and a national programme to raise employers’ awareness of the skills and potential of autistic people.

Pauline said: “Fewer than 16 per cent of autistic people are in full-time paid work and 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.”

The publication of the report coincided with 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 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 per cent to 64 per cent, compared with 80 per cent of non-disabled people.

But the society’s research shows that the autism employment gap is even wider, with only 32 per cent in any kind of paid work, even though 77 per cent say they want to work.

Society chief executive Mark Lever said: “Autistic people have a huge contribution to make to our economy and society, including in the workplace. But they’ve been repeatedly overlooked.

“Many employers tell us they’re keen to recruit more autistic people but don’t know where to go for support and they’re worried about getting it wrong. So we’re pleased the green paper sees employers have a key role in reducing the disability employment gap.”

Employers such as GCHQ and Microsoft are already supporting autistic people into work through specialist recruitment programmes or work experience.

Download the full report at