Reasonable adjustments are ‘crucial’ to improving representation of autistic adults in the workplace

In light of figures released by The National Autistic Society, which reveal that just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid work, HR and diversity consultancy the Clear Company has urged employers to ensure that they are able to provide reasonable adjustments which can prove crucial to the success of an autistic person in the workplace.

According to The National Autistic Society’s report ‘The Autism Employment Gap’, 32% of autistic adults are in some form of paid work, compared to 47% of all disabled people and 80% of non-disabled people. That is despite 77% of those surveyed who are currently unemployed signalling that they want to work.

Worryingly, despite the success of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme, 60% of employers surveyed fear getting support for an autistic employee wrong, and the same percentage indicated that they didn’t know where to go for support or advice about employing an autistic person.

Commenting on the need for employers to be disability confident, Kate Headley, Director at diversity consultancy and Disability Confident Leader, the Clear Company said;

“With figures from The National Autistic Society revealing that as few as 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment it is crucial that as an employer you’re aware of how you can effectively support individuals with autism. Of great concern, according to The National Autistic Society, only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support, despite 53% saying they want it. Given that more than one in 100 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum, it is absolutely fundamental that employers are confident about how they can support autistic candidates through the recruitment process.

“While employment isn’t right for everyone on the autism spectrum, the majority of autistic people want to work and have plenty of valuable skills to offer. Autistic candidates often demonstrate above-average levels of concentration, reliability, conscientiousness and persistence, as well as paying incredibly close attention to detail. In fact some organisations such as German business software company, SAP, actively recruit autistic people to programme and test its products.

“Often the adjustments needed to make the recruitment process, or indeed working environment, accommodating for a professional with autism are small, and cost almost nothing. In fact our own research suggests that the price of the average reasonable adjustments far outweigh the cost of having to recruit and train a new employee, costing, on average, just £30. Accommodating adjustments for people with autism can be as simple as ensuring they have a quiet space to work in, giving them clear and succinct written or verbal instructions and avoiding hypothetical or abstract questions.”

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