Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, is calling on the Government and local employers to do more to close the autism employment gap once and for all. The MP, an officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Autism, joined 100 MPs attending his group's launch of a new National Autistic Society report and campaign in Parliament on 31 October, which highlights the shockingly low levels of employment among autistic people and what employers and Government can do to close the autism employment gap.
Huw is backing the charity’s campaign, calling on the Government to ensure autistic people can access specialist support to help them find and stay in work, and bring in a national programme to raise employers’ awareness of the skills and potential of autistic people. The parliamentary launch of the campaign comes on the same day as the launch of the Government’s Work, Health and Disability green paper, which sets out its plans to help more people with disabilities and long term conditions into work.
Closer to home, Huw is working with local charity Little Gate Farm whose training programme helps develop the practical work skills of adults with a range of learning difficulties, including adults with autism. They also work closely with local employers to identify potential placements into paid work, be it in an office, restaurant or outside environment. Huw has partnered with Kevin Southon, Little Gate Farm's Supported Employment Manager, as they seek to recruit more potential employers who may be keen to support adults with learning difficulties and/or autism into the workplace but may be unsure of their responsibilities.
Huw said "I was delighted to join the National Autistic Society with the national launch of their campaign. I am particularly keen to help locally to demonstrate to employers that, in recruiting autistic workers, they will find reliability, enthusiasm for a job which others may find repetitive and an employee who will take great pride in being on the payroll. I look forward to helping to recruit more autistic young people to our great local businesses."
Kevin said "We know that one of the barriers to recruitment is the concern that employers may not be equipped to support someone with a learning disability or autism. This is where our training, expertise and Supported Employment Programme comes in to play. We have great examples where employers have gone from caution and uncertainty to asking how many more potential workers can we identify for employment. We would welcome employers getting in touch so we can help them recruit find potential recruits for entry level jobs"