Autism and Employment

Local Networks

Albury-Wodonga Autism Community of Practice

The Albury-Wodonga Autism Community of Practice is a network with a focus on autism and mental health. Community members, professionals and service providers are invited to attend network meetings, which can consist of guest presentations, information sessions and peer support. Funded by the Mental Health Professionals’ Network, the group meets quarterly to share knowledge and support in the community of Albury/Wodonga and nearby regions.

In the Media

With World Autism Awareness Day being held on 2 April, several articles on autism and employment have caught our eye. Read on to find out about the positive traits and challenges faced by autistic workers, along with national and international perspectives on autism and employment:

This article covers the positive traits and challenges faced by autistic workers but also gives an international perspective. Published online by Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, on 2 April 2019, this article describes employers and autistic recruitment consultancies that are generating employment opportunities for people living with autism around the world.

For a national perspective on autism and employment, see this news post, published online by Amaze, the peak body for autistic people in Victoria, on 28 March 2019. An Australian-first study released by Amaze that day found that more than half of unemployed autistic Australians had never held a paid job despite often possessing the skills, qualifications and a strong desire to join the workforce. Conducted by the Centre for Health and Social Research and Australian Catholic University, the study also revealed that, while more than half of autistic Australians would like a paid job, only one in three were currently in a paid role.

We know from Amaze CEO Fiona Sharkie that autistic employees can bring a range of strengths, interests and skills to the workforce, often demonstrating exemplary characteristics in visual thinking, attention to detail, honesty, efficiency, precision, consistency and low absenteeism. She also tells us that it would be easier for autistic people to find and keep a job—and they would be more successful at it—if potential employers and colleagues understood autism and its characteristics. So, what changes can we make to transform our workplace culture to be more inclusive?

Amaze proposes 8 things workplaces can do for autism including make adjustments and offer support. The most common adjustments include flexible hours, sensory considerations, providing clarity around roles and expectations, offering direct but sensitive feedback and providing routine.

With people with disabilities significantly underrepresented in the global labour force, improving their employment participation rates is a critical global issue, particularly in the tech sector, according to this article posted online by the World Economic Forum on 20 January 2019.

In the tech sector, where there are increasing numbers of open jobs and a significant need for new talent pools, the private sector is playing a role in contributing to improved employment outcomes for people with disabilities. An example of one emerging innovative practice is how several tech sector leaders have become ardent advocates for the pursuit of qualified persons with autism to fill their open positions. Select characteristics of autistic individuals, such as an ability to focus intently on details and identify patterns, have been identified as useful in tasks related to cybersecurity, for example.

This article discusses the many opportunities throughout the employment process where employers can facilitate disability inclusion. With research in this area identifying certain employer practices in recruitment that yield a much higher probability of a company successfully hiring a person with a disability, the article suggests that it is time we look to business to provide better leadership in this area to increase the likelihood of improving the employment outcomes of people with disabilities.

Resources

To find out more about the ways you can support someone with autism, including in the workplace, in schools or individually, see Amaze’s campaign, Do One Thing for Autism.

If you are an employer who recognises the business benefits of including people with disabilities in the workplace, check out this self-assessment tool for organisations—available online at no cost. Using BenchmarkABILITY, you can begin to learn more about leading practices to promote disability inclusive workplaces by taking any of six short checklists.