A spectrum of opportunities for adults with autism

Monday 25 January 2021

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How to promote employment of people with autism spectrum disorder? How can employers, recruiters and HR managers support adults with ASD through recruitment process and workplace integration? And why should they do it?

Autism at work

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability, and all individuals with ASD, share three main areas of difficulty: social communication, social interaction, and inflexibility of thought. The word “spectrum” refers to the wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms; some people are able to live relatively independent lives, while others will require a lifetime of specialist support.

Common symptoms of ASD impair the person’s ability to function properly in work, and other areas of life. In fact, more than 75% of ASD adults in the EU are unemployed. Many don’t make it through the interview process where candidate’s assets such as great communication skills, team work and flexibility are essential for success. Even if hired, most organisational cultures are based on social and communication skills that make it hard for a person with autism to onboard and integrate without support. Other typical ASD symptoms includes sensory sensitivities or difficulties with adapting to change, putting up additional barriers to their employment.

Benefits of employing people with ASD

On the other hand, many adults with autism achieve higher education and have skills that are in huge demand by employers; trustworthiness, reliability, strong memory, adherence to rules and attention to detail are among their many strengths.

Furthermore, neurodiversity – a diversity of thinking styles and abilities – drives diversity of thinking, and stimulates creativity and innovation.

Opportunities of ASD-friendly employment

However, this talent pool of adults on the autistic spectrum has been overlooked by many European employers. Partly because of poor awareness of the ASD among employers, HR managers and recruiters, partly because of a serious lack of training developing their skill and competences in proving adequate support to candidates and employees with ASD.

The Opportunities4autism project intends to improve understanding of autism spectrum disorder among employers, managers and recruiters, to raise their awareness of the benefits of a neuro-diverse workforce, and equip them with skills and competences in supporting individuals with autism during application, selection and workplace-integration process.

Opportunities4autims Training Package and e-learning course will provide VET trainers with a comprehensive set of materials enabling them to educate and train employers, HR managers, recruiters and other professionals supporting recruitment, management and development of human resources in communication with candidates and employees with ASD, and in creating an autism-friendly recruitment process and workplaces.

On December 14, the project partners met at the kick-off meeting and launched the implementation. At the first stage, focus groups will be organised in 5 European countries to explore employers’ understanding of ASD workforce, and analyse their training needs in the field of employment of people with autism spectrum disorder.

Are you either a VET trainer, an employer or a professional working with adults with ASD, and wish to take part in our research and/or following training? We’ll be happy to welcome on board.

For more information contact Cecilie La Monica Grus: cecilie.lamonica@cesie.org.

About the project

Opportunities4autism – A spectrum of opportunities: training field professionals on how to recruit and support individuals with autism at the workplace is a two-years project co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of European Union under KA2 KA202 – Strategic Partnerships for VET.

Partners

The project is carried out by 6 partners with long experience in supporting vulnerable groups.

For further information

See the project website and read more about Opportunities4autism.

Contact Cecilie La Monica Grus: cecilie.lamonica@cesie.org.

CESIE ETS