Here we detail some of the examples of good practice in employment which currently exist.
Gloucestershire County Council
Gloucestershire County Council works in partnership to establish job clubs and holds jobs fairs for disabled people.
The council has placed particular emphasis on upskilling employment advisers in mainstream services so that they can better support people with autism. The Autism Coordinator for Gloucestershire has delivered a full-day training session to the area’s Jobcentre Plus disability employment advisers and Connexions staff. She also provided half-day autism awareness training to groups of local authority staff.
Meanwhile, the Council commissioned the NAS Prospects employment team to deliver training to voluntary organisations that provide employment support to people with autism. The partnership board is hoping to extend this training to agencies contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions to provide the Work Programme.
Visit the Gloucestershire County Council website for more information.
Hertfordshire County Council
Hertfordshire County Council runs the Work Solutions programme, an eight-week course that provides confidence-building activities and job-hunting advice to adults with autism. Afterwards they are matched with a work taster opportunity with local employers, or with the council itself.
Advisers from Work Solutions accompany adults with autism on the work taster to make sure they have the support they need – for example, with learning tasks. Once participants decide what sort of work they would like to do, advisers search for appropriate jobs. Sometimes work taster placements go so well that people are offered permanent jobs.
Lynx Resource Centre
The Lynx Resource Centre is an autism-specific service in Weston-Super-Mare that provides on-site work tasters, job-hunting and leisure support. People's places are usually funded through personal budgets, Access to Work, or their local authority.
The centre provides vocational opportunities in woodwork, metalcraft, horticulture, administration, IT, sales and art. It houses a purpose-built workshop, office and computer suite. Staff work to improve people's understanding of their condition, introducing coping strategies and building confidence. Alongside this, a job coach provides one-to-one training, helps people to access work tasters and volunteering opportunities, and decide what type of role they might be best-suited to. The job coach acts as an advocate when people find paid employment.
The centre is run by The National Autistic Society and works in partnership with local employers, Weston College, Connexions, Jobcentre Plus and other agencies.
Redbridge Borough Council
In Redbridge, the borough council joined forces with local MP Lee Scott to create a model for an employment service for people with autism and other disabilities.
Lee Scott took on the role of facilitator in a local 'employment market', bringing together interested parties such as the local authority, employers, parents' and support groups, and charities to create programmes to improve the chances of disabled jobseekers.
The Redbridge SEN and Disability Division took the lead on delivering this project, with input and ideas from Lee Scott, and particular assistance from local parents' groups. The proposals focused upon developing a disability employment network in Redbridge, which contains elements of work preparation and social enterprise. It also developed a way to co-ordinate the different employment initiatives already underway in the borough, and made sure they were accountable to the central authority.
Visit the Redbridge Borough Council website for more information.
Surrey County Council
Beth is a 21-year-old woman with autism from Surrey. When Beth met her employment support officer at EmployAbility she was clear she wanted a job working with people. A natural extrovert, Beth’s hobbies include singing in a local choir and amateur dramatics. It was obvious that with her chatty and friendly nature, a customer-facing role would be ideal.
Starbucks offered Beth a position at their Woking branch. Working as part of a small staff team means Beth gets the support she needs and variety in her work. As well as providing Beth with job coaching, her employment support officer worked with the other staff to show them how to get the best from Beth, give clear instructions, and make sure any difficulties are addressed quickly.