Empowering People, Launching lives

What does meaningful employment look like?

Author: Emily Ross, Specialist Vocational Advisor


31st March 2022 | 2 mins read

Just 21.7% of autistic people are in employment, compared to the average figure of 53.6% amongst people with disabilities.[1] We want to see this number rise and a crucial part of that is addressing the way we see employment. Flexibility is needed, now more than ever, to ensure that autistic people are given the opportunities to access meaningful employment. Companies need to be more inclusive which in turn will allow them to start benefitting from the skills autistic people can bring.

We want to see organisations thinking outside of the box. Could the role you’re looking for one person to fill be carved up into two smaller part time roles? Are there tasks that lie outside of a job description that could be carried out by another position? How can your process be made more inclusive from application through to on-boarding?

For ideas and support on this, take a look at our employment training. Included are copies of our employability toolkit and resource pack.

Our work with Home Community Café

Our partnership with the café in Earlsfield began in 2018 when they offered us a plot of land to support our learners’ horticultural experiences. Following lockdown, the placement restarted with pupils supporting in-house at the café.

The placement is a great example of an organisation working with an individual to identify their strengths and create a role based on their skill set. Pupils support café staff with a variety of jobs. From cleaning to breaking down boxes and refilling salt and pepper shakers. More recently they have challenged learners inside the kitchen with making smoothies for customers. The partnership is built on communication. Their staff always look for ways they can support our pupils and keep encouraging them to develop their skills.

Meg from the café said: “We love having your learners with us every week! Not only are they super helpful but they also make us smile every week with their joyful demeanours.”

Visible results

Our learners have made fantastic progress since the placements restarted. One of the pupils accessing the work experience placement has grown in confidence so much so that he now completes his tasks independently with minimal support. His work buddy is there to support if he needs it and he will only seek help if he is unsure of how to do something. This is an amazing development from someone who at the beginning needed support all the way through tasks.

We’re thrilled to be working with Home Community Café. They constantly put the needs of our learners at the centre and are a great example of how organisations can adapt to provide real meaningful employment opportunities for autistic people.

“We have seen real progress from them. Both boys have increased in confidence as they have visited every week, showing real ownership in the tasks that they undertake. They work independently for the most part, working from their task list and completing jobs to a high standard. We are very thankful to them and their one to ones. They are rays of sunshine on a Wednesday morning!”

[1] Office for National Statistics (2021). Outcomes for disabled people in the UK: 2020

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