Posted Wednesday 21 October 2020
Kingston University has joined a ground-breaking higher education employability programme which aims to unlock the potential of autistic students and graduates and help them into full-time work.
The Employ Autism Higher Education Network programme is run by Santander, through Santander Universities UK and the charity Ambitious about Autism and will enable autistic students and graduates studying at Kingston to access paid internships and tailored careers support and advice.
Research by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services on disabled graduate unemployment found that autistic graduates are the least likely of all disabled students to find employment following their studies – with only 33 per cent in full-time work.
This new nationwide programme aims to tackle this issue by enabling more autistic students and graduates to have access to meaningful employment experience. It will also ensure local businesses can benefit from neurodiverse talent within their workforces.
During the 18-month programme, careers and employability support staff at Kingston University will receive specialist training and support from Ambitious about Autism to work specifically with autistic students, helping to guide them into sustainable employment.
Working with professionals who understand their needs, students will receive support to identify roles that match their skills and will be given help with the application and recruitment process, which often needs to be adapted to allow autistic young people to shine.
The University will also work with local employers to create opportunities for these students to take part in internships with autism-confident businesses, providing them with valuable on the job experience in a supportive environment.
Head of Graduate Outcomes and Employability at Kingston University Ali Orr said the programme will be important to help talented autistic students thrive in the workplace. "We're delighted to be joining The Employ Autism Higher Education Network and playing our part in helping more autistic students and graduates achieve their potential and access full-time employment," he said.
"We're really looking forward to working with our autistic students to match their talents to autism-confident employers who can support their needs and allow them thrive in the workplace," he added.
Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism Jolanta Lasota said Kingston University will be at the forefront of the drive to increase the neurodiversity of the UK workforce. "Autistic students and graduates are among our brightest talents and yet too many face a much more challenging path into long-term employment than their neurotypical peers. By joining our programme, Kingston University will also be helping to change the lives of autistic people," she said.
Director of Santander Universities UK Matt Hutnell said the programme will improve employment outcomes for autistic students and graduates by providing life-changing opportunities. "Santander is committed to supporting students from diverse backgrounds into university, work and self-employment. We're pleased to join forces with Ambitious about Autism and a number of our university partners, including Kingston University, to launch this pioneering new programme," he said.
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