Employable MeWe really enjoyed series 2 of the BBC’s Employable Me, but particularly loved watching episode 4 which aired on 18 December and featured autistic job seekers, Erica and Alan.  

Alan graduated from university two years ago with a psychology degree, but struggled to find work. He is passionate about political data – or “psephology”, as he told the other Employable Me job seekers – and he was determined to find work in data analysis. Despite finding social interaction in the workplace challenging, especially ‘small talk’, he was finally able to find a job that suited his skill set.

Erica had been unemployed for six years. For most of her life, she felt misunderstood and struggled to find and stay in work. When Erica received her autism diagnosis at age 32 her differences started to make sense. Despite the strong verbal skills and intelligence that the mentor identified in the film, Erica lacked confidence but was determined to find a job because she passionately wanted to contribute to society. Her hard work paid off and she got a job working customer side in a large M&S store.  

The National Autistic Society were delighted to have worked with the team at Optomen, the company that made Employable Me. We asked you on Twitter and Facebook if you wanted to be one of the job seekers, and made sure that the autistic job seekers selected to take part in the show were well supported during filming and given specialist advice and training. Our brilliant employment training consultant, Emily, who is also autistic, helped advise Optomen and was featured in the show giving Erica and Alan two training sessions to help them navigate and understand some of the unspoken social rules around the workplace.

It is vital that employers learn about autism and how best to recruit and support autistic people – including making sure that their staff understand autism. Emily is part of our Employment Training Team that helps employers make their practice autism friendly. The majority of the work carried out by our employment team focusses on helping employers gain a better understanding of autism so that they can make the adjustments needed for autistic employees. Find out more about workplace assessments, training courses, our Autistic Talent Newsletter and our Autism Friendly Employer Awards.

Erica and Alan were both signed up to the Brain in Hand support service which they could access from an app on their phones. The app helps autistic people to manage their diary, monitors their anxiety levels and provides coping strategies when they face  difficult situations.  It also includes a traffic light system, which if a person becomes panicked and overwhelmed, they can tap a red button which alerts The National Autistic Society to get in touch to provide them with additional help.

We hosted a live Twitter Q&A with Erica and Emily in Liverpool on Tuesday 19 December.

Read the Q&A