The National Autistic Society has been selected to develop and pilot an autism-specific apprenticeship scheme, which will help get more talented autistic people involved in the cyber security industry.


Our pilot is one of seven initiatives the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is supporting through its Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund, which was set up to increase the diversity and numbers of people working in the UK's cyber security sector.

The pilot will be based out of our Enterprise Campus in Essex and will involve 12 apprenticeships in total. In the first three months of each apprenticeship, we will be working with Immersive Labs to support candidates through cyber security training and prepare them for the workplace. Crucially, we’ll also be working with their employer to make sure they understand autism and can offer the support the apprentice needs. We’ll then spend the next six months providing in-work support.

We'll be looking to recruit candidates for the apprenticeships later in the summer, with a view to launching the pilot in the autumn. Look out for more information on the news section of our website soon.

Emma Kearns, Partnerships and Employment Training Manager at the National Autistic Society, said:
“More and more businesses like GCHQ and Microsoft, are recognising the potential of autistic people as part of a diverse workforce.

“Yet our charity’s research shows just 16% of autistic people are in full-time paid work – and many of them are in jobs below their skill level. This is a huge waste of talent at a time when there’s a big skills shortage, particularly in the cyber security industry.

“We’re committed to changing this through campaigning and opportunities like this apprenticeship scheme, which we’re piloting at our Enterprise Campus, in partnership with Immersive Labs. What’s different about this scheme is that we’re not just preparing the autistic candidates for work, we’re also working with employers to make sure they understand autism and introduce the right support and adjustments. 

“It’s important to remember every autistic person has different skills, interests and support needs, and that some people aren’t able to work at all. We’ll be reviewing this model closely and, if successful, hope it can be replicated in other industries. 

“With a little understanding and small adjustments to the recruitment process and workplace, autistic adults can be a real asset to all sorts of businesses.”

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, said:
 "Untapped talent in cyber security can be found anywhere but unless we look for it everywhere, we risk missing out.

"The Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund is a great example of Government working closely with industry, community groups and charities to boost diversity in the workplace. 

“Diversity should be at the heart of what we do as we work to build a Britain which is fit for the future.” 

James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, said:
“Through the Cyber Skills Grant, and by working alongside organisations like the National Autistic Society, we really can work towards not only closing the skills gap but bringing a more diverse talent pool to the industry. There are many incredibly talented individuals who are often looked over when it comes to employment within our field, and it is our responsibility to provide them with the starting platform they need.”