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Report: Autistic workers aren’t getting enough support from employers

30 Mar 2021

A new IrishJobs.ie and AsIAm survey has found that nine in 10 autistic people believe their autism makes it difficult for them to get a job.

A new report from IrishJobs.ie and AsIAm sheds light on the barriers autistic people can face when it comes to getting hired in Ireland. The findings have been released in advance of World Autism Day, which takes place this Friday 2 April.

The jobs platform and national autism charity worked together to survey 234 autistic people and 110 businesses in January and February. The results suggest that many autistic people continue to face a number of barriers in the hiring process, with the two biggest challenges being appropriate job interview settings and outdated perceptions of autism.

Overall, the report says that almost four in five autistic people face barriers to employment in Ireland and that nine in 10 believe their autism makes it difficult for them to get a job.

‘We need to address this as a matter of urgency so that we create an environment in which autistic people have a real opportunity of inclusivity in the workplace’

Almost two-thirds (60pc) of autistic people surveyed said that recruitment processes aren’t accessible for autistic people. And almost three-quarters said that once they are hired, they don’t feel like they can be open about their autism in the workplace.

Meanwhile, 76pc of companies surveyed revealed that they have no dedicated autism-friendly workplace policy. A similar percentage said they don’t believe their employees know enough about autism to support an autistic colleague.

A ‘matter of urgency’

While there are a number of Government supports available to help businesses provide equal employment opportunities for autistic people, the report says there is a “a clear lack of awareness and deployment of these supports”. Just 16pc of companies said they are aware of the existing schemes.

And while 75pc of employers said they believe their current hiring processes are accessible for autistic people, only 25pc have actually made accommodations for autistic candidates during them.

AsIAm chief executive Adam Harris said the research findings highlight the “very real barriers that exist for autistic people in securing employment”.

“We need to address this as a matter of urgency … so that we create an environment in which autistic people have a real opportunity of inclusivity in the workplace,” he added.

“Autistic people are as diverse as the society we live in and are already making contributions to communities across Ireland.  We need to work together to educate companies on the huge contribution autistic people can make to the workforce and on the valuable contribution they can make to the economy.

“Our aim is to have a more inclusive society which is fair to autistic people and as we emerge from this pandemic, we have an amazing opportunity to start afresh, to create a workforce which truly accepts autistic people – valuing our contribution, meeting our needs and working together.”

IrishJobs.ie general manager Orla Moran added that despite recent progress, autism is “all too frequently either overlooked or misunderstood” when companies talk about workplace diversity and inclusion.

“Frustratingly, at a time when more than half of employers are struggling to meet their recruitment needs, many are missing a trick by not tapping into this talent pool.” This is something that was also highlighted by Gartner’s Rob O’Donohue at Future Human 2020.

IrishJobs.ie and AsIAm have announced a new partnership to help improve employment opportunities for autistic people. Together, the organisations will provide masterclasses, training programmes and toolkits to educate employers on how best to hire and support autistic employees.

“IrishJobs.ie and AsIAm are determined to deliver a tangible growth in the number of autistic people employed across Ireland, and ultimately we see this as a win-win outcome for both employers and employees,” Moran added.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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