An employability programme launched by national charity Ambitious About Autism aims to get 10,000 young autistic people ready for work by 2022, with TalkTalk taking a lead in developing the north west region and planning to offer work placements this summer.
The partnership will connect employers, educational institutions, local authorities, specialist agencies and young people; and all participants will be offered paid, meaningful work placements, with access to specialist careers advice and work experience to support their transition from education to employment.
TalkTalk’s CEO Tristia Harrison and Ambitious about Autism’s Chief Executive Jolanta Lasota launched the programme at the ISP’s HQ Soapworks in Salford on February 5th. Big brand attendees included BBC, ITV and Marks & Spencer.
TalkTalk has a longstanding relationship with Ambitious About Autism, raising £4m for the charity since 2006.
Harrison, said: “TalkTalk has always celebrated diversity and promoted inclusion in the workplace.
“We are partnering with Ambitious About Autism to enable thousands of autistic young adults reach full-time employment. Through showcasing the wonderful capabilities of this programme at our event we hope this will encourage other leading businesses to follow suit.”
Jolanta Lasota, Ambitious about Autism Chief Executive, added: “Many autistic young people face bleak employment prospects, yet we know they have so much to offer the workplace.
“Neurodiversity and different ways of thinking and problem solving can bring huge benefits to businesses, and we hope our Employ Autism programme will help employers unlock this untapped potential."
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett noted: “Figures show that nationally just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment, only up by 1% from ten years ago, so there is a long way to go."
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics in 2014, only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment in the UK, representing a £32bn cost to the UK economy each year.