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Bridging the Autism Employment Gap: Key Takeaways from the UK’s Buckland Review
Bridging the Autism Employment Gap: Key Takeaways from the UK's Buckland Review
The UK's Buckland Review identifies barriers facing autistic people in employment and provides recommendations to government, employers, and autism organizations to significantly improve the low autism employment rate.

The UK government’s Buckland Review of Autism Employment, supported by Autistica and Department for Work and Pensions, was recently released to consider how to significantly improve the low autism employment rate. It gathered evidence from employers, autistic people, and other experts.

Key findings:

  • Only around 3 in 10 autistic adults are in employment, compared to over 5 in 10 disabled people generally. Autistic graduates also face particular barriers.
  • Autistic people can offer strengths in areas like sustained focus, pattern recognition and attention to detail. A neurodiverse workforce confers advantages.
  • Barriers include lack of work experience opportunities for autistic youth, inaccessible recruitment practices, lack of workplace adjustments, and stigma/lack of autism understanding among employers.
  • Adjustments are often refused or poorly implemented even when requested. Employers also report feeling underprepared to support autistic staff.

Recommendations aim to:

  • Raise employer awareness via campaigns showing the productivity benefits of autistic employees.
  • Develop skills and experience for autistic youth through supported internships and apprenticeships.
  • Make recruitment practices more inclusive via staff disability training, limiting interviews, and sharing autism employment success stories.
  • Support employees via better staff training, improved workplace adjustments, and accessible HR processes.

In particular, Buckland offers suggestions for businesses to be more inclusive:

  • Signing up for the Autistica Neurodiversity Employers Index to access guidance on designing inclusive processes and procedures.
  • Encouraging career progression by developing packages of training focused on autistic staff.
  • Improving recruitment by ensuring careers advisers can provide appropriate advice to autistic jobseekers.
  • Supporting autistic people who are already in the workplace by producing “autism design guides” to create appropriate premises, furnishings and equipment.
  • Working with software suppliers to develop IT systems that meet autistic people’s needs.

The report argues better support for autistic people in work could benefit employers through an expanded talent pool, the economy overall through increased productivity, and autistic people themselves via improvements in quality of life. It calls for coordinated action from government, employers and autism organisations to drive change.

As partners on the BRIDGING project (Breakthrough interview extended reality training towards reducing the autism employment gap), led by Dr. Michael Loizou at the University of Plymouth together with partners like the Kimel Foundation and National Autistic Society, we welcome more awareness and research to this employment gap! By co-designing immersive VR scenarios with end users to simulate interviews and workplaces, we aim provide a safe space for autistic adults to practice responses and cope with anxieties. Our goal is to empower autistic individuals and equip them with the tools to gain meaningful employment.

The full report is available on the gov.uk website, and here is BBC coverage of the report, findings and recommendations. More information on the BRIDGING project can be found here.

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