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Justin Tomlinson, Minister of State for Disabled People, has confirmed the Government wants to start recording the number of autistic people in work - for the first time. This may sound like a small thing but it's really important and is a great step forward in our autism employment gap campaigning. 

At the moment, the best data on the employment rate for autistic people we have is from our Autism Employment Gap research report in 2016. In our report then we said that the Government needs to record this centrally to provide a fuller picture of how many autistic people are in work and the challenges they face. This will also mean we can hold the Government to account on closing the autism employment gap.

This is something we have been calling for since we launched our report in 2016.

Responding to a question in Parliament from Marion Fellows MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP said: "The hon. Lady is right that we do not currently record statistics on people with autism in the labour force survey… 

“…We are now working with the Office for National Statistics so that we can make that part of the labour force survey. I would welcome that, as the Minister for Disabled People, and we are very much on that."

Reactions

Anna Bailey-Bearfield, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the National Autistic Society, said: "We’re really pleased that the Government is taking steps to record the number of autistic people in work, which is something we’ve been calling for, for a number of years.

"This is an important step, as it’ll give us better insight into the employment gap and barriers autistic people face finding work– and help us hold the Government to account.

"It's shocking that so few autistic people are in work, especially when our research suggests that many can and want to find a job. Only by properly recording the employment rate will Government know that its programmes are working.

“So it’s vital that the Government sees this intention through and they must then ensure it leads to the right action, including better and specific support for both autistic people and employers, so we can finally close the employment gap.”

Cheryl Gillan and MaxCheryl Gillan MP and Max in Parliament in 2016   

Max Green is autistic and was the face of our Autism Employment Gap campaign. We asked him for a response to today’s news. He said: "I'm delighted that one of the campaign’s main calls has been accepted by the Government. I have had the honour to speak with MPs at the Houses of Parliament fighting to achieve this so more autistic people have the same opportunities as everyone else! 

"I'm lucky enough to have a good career in IT. But it wasn't always this way. And I know that many autistic people are less fortunate than me and are really struggling to find work. I hope that today's announcement will make them more visible to the Government and help them to improve understanding and support for other people like me.

“I left school without any GCSEs and felt like people would think I have nothing to offer. I managed to get an interview at a phone company but it was a disaster – I didn’t know what to expect and became so overwhelmed with anxiety that I couldn’t speak. I just sat there, shaking and sweating. Luckily, I got another interview soon after. A similar thing happened but they took a chance with me and offered me an apprenticeship.

"It made such a difference knowing someone had faith in me, probably more than anyone will ever know. From that moment I’ve given everything. I think this tenacity is part of my autism. I still face lack of understanding but I continue to campaign because I hope one day we live in a world where it won’t be 16% of autistic adults in full-time work - it will be every autistic person who can. I always say to myself, ‘you’ll never fail, if you keep trying’.”

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