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MP supports campaign to get more people with autism into employment

February 8, 2013 12:37 PM

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has joined forces with Cambridge Regional College and the local Jobcentre Plus to hold a breakfast event promoting the benefits of employing people with autism.

The event, part of the national Autistic Society (NAS) Undiscovered Workforce campaign will bring adults with autism from the area together with local employers with the aim of improving job opportunities for people with autism in the region.

NAS research indicates that only 15% of adults with autism are in full-time employment, with 79% of those claiming out-of-work benefits telling us they want to work. 26% of graduates with autism are unemployed, by far the highest rate of any disability group. Around 1 in 100 Cambridge adults are living with autism, so it is vital that more is done to support them into employment.

Julian Huppert, said: "Adults with autism deserve to have the same opportunities as everyone else. People with autism in my constituency tell me that they experience difficulties in finding and staying in employment, often due to inadequate support and misunderstandings related to their condition. In these challenging economic times, we cannot afford to let the skills and talents of a whole section of society with much to offer go to waste."

Amanda Smallbone, Skills for Employment manager at Cambridge Regional College, said: "The event is all about raising awareness of autism and helping everyone reach their potential. We hope we can improve the job prospects of people with autism by bringing them together with employers who need a skilled workforce."

Neil Nineham, Relationships Manager at Jobcentre Plus within the Department for Work and Pensions, said: "The Department for Work and Pensions are very pleased to support The National Autistic Society breakfast event at Cambridge Regional College. The event will bring together employers and partners.

"Jobcentre Plus continues to focus on ways to improve the autism awareness of personal advisers, through training and closer work with the NAS."

Ben Stephen, an adult with autism who lives in Cambridge and is speaking at the event, said: "This event is a great opportunity to show just how well people with autism can work when they are given the right opportunities and support. People with autism have so much to offer and we want to be able to contribute to the society we are part of. All we need is the chance to do so."

With the right support, people with autism can overcome barriers that may prevent them from working. Simple adjustments like making job interviews more accessible and providing support so that those in work understand the 'unwritten rules' of the workplace which others take for granted can unlock the potential of a whole army of people ready and willing to work.

The Undiscovered Workforce event is being held at Cambridge Regional College on Friday 8th February from 8am - 10am. If you would like to attend please respond to Amanda Smallbone by email asmallbone@camre.ac.uk