We had the opportunity to speak with Clare Caccavone, Programme Director, representing Ambitious About Autism, who we will be hearing from at our upcoming Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conference.
She shared some valuable insights about the challenges faced by autistic people in the world of work, as well as the opportunities available. Most importantly, we discussed the value of hiring neurodiverse candidates and what this can bring to your teams with their highly admirable work ethic.
Having diverse teams is undeniably one of the most important methods of driving innovation. However, while diversity is a common topic of discussion within the recruitment sphere, neurodiversity, a specific branch of diversity, is not so often spoken about.
Neurodiversity: the diversity of human brains and minds; the different cognitive functions that constitute this and the neurology underlying this.
Typically, people think that diversity relates mainly just to gender, race and age. While having diverse teams across all of these areas is also important, neurodiversity is something which is often overlooked. Neurodiversity in the workplace is immensely valuable in providing different ways of thinking, helping to provide fresh perspectives and boost creativity. This sense of distinction in cognitive style allows for those within a team to play to their different strengths and for success to be escalated across a multitude of areas.
One in 100 people in the UK are autistic. Autism affects the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them and is described as a spectrum condition. It can be characterised typically by difficulties in social interaction and communication. Many autistic young are educated in mainstream schools, however others need more specialist education and support. For these young people, pathways into employment are somewhat more ambiguous.
Meanwhile, many autistic children educated in mainstream schools also face barriers – and are six times more likely to be excluded. This is mainly due to teachers not having adequate training to support their special educational needs. Ambitious About Autism is a charity dedicated to enhancing the lives of children and young people with autism by providing them with opportunities to learn, thrive and achieve in education and employment.
The lack of adequate support for autistic children throughout school means that they often do not have the same opportunities or pathways into further education and employment as others. Shockingly, 84% of those with autism are unemployed.
Through its Employ Autism Network, Ambitious about Autism is striving to tackle the autism unemployment rate across the country. The charity has a proven track record in working with education providers, autistic young people and employers to create opportunities for work experience placements in autism confident environments.
By joining its Employ Autism Network, organisations can become part of this ground-breaking work and receive support in implementing work experience programmes into their local areas and helping to improve the lives of autistic people nationwide. The network exists to give autistic people the chance they deserve at finding employment, while providing employers with unique skills and access to wider talent pools.
Supporting autistic young people into work
Clare Caccovone, Programme Director for Employ Autism, explained more about the charity’s employment work, sharing the details of the programme they currently run in London dedicated to providing autistic young people with paid work experience opportunities to help them find their feet in the world of work. The exchange of experience opens up opportunities to both parties involved, allowing recruiters to broaden their talent pool and take on hires that are dedicated, ambitious and offer unique skills that add a huge amount of value to their team.
Clare said there is still often misconceptions about the type of industries autistic young people can thrive in and many people hold the assumption that the main skill held by those with autism is coding or other tech-related skills. There is also still a lack of awareness about the skills that neurodiverse candidates can bring to the workplace and breaking down these barriers is the first step in creating more neurodiverse teams.
It is helpful for recruiters is to assess the options out there which can help to educate your organisation more on this matter. With this in place, budgeting, a refined recruitment strategy, and everything intrinsic to the process of talent acquisition will fall into place. You can propel your recruitment success forward with the right knowledge to drive your decisions.
With World Autism Awareness Month starting next Monday there’s never been a better time for recruiters to enlighten themselves on the wonders of having neurodiverse teams.
Thinking in an atypical way isn’t a negative, it’s a plus. Neurodiversity is the key to creativity in the workplace, helping to amalgamate unique viewpoints and ways of approaching tasks. The world would certainly be a much more dull place without different ways of thinking. Clare highlights the reality that autistic people have a range of unique talents. This could include having excellent memory recall, strong attention to detail and a great capacity for identifying patterns. As recruiters, you can harness these in a way that allows you to recruit more inclusively, as well as enhance your productivity and success.
Opening your eyes to these facts and broadening your talent pool will bring unparalleled results while ensuring that these extraordinary individuals grow and develop in the world of work, achieving their true potential and unlocking exciting new opportunities for themselves.
If you want to learn more about neurodiversity, make sure you sign up for our Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conference where this important topic will be discussed in more detail. We will be hearing on all things diversity related to leave you feeling inspired and ready to build stronger teams.