The power of employers in helping people with autism in to work

We talk often about knowing what works in getting people into employment; all that research and evidence; all that practice. Yet where do employers fit? Should they not be doing some of this stuff for us – or at least with us?

We know in the UK the growth of Project Search and Supported Internships offer an insight to what happens when we get the (properly supported) skills and talents on display for recruiting managers that employment rates for people with learning disabilities and autism start to increase significantly.

We were, therefore, delighted to be invited once again to Malaysia to talk to Gamuda – one of the country's largest engineering, property and infrastructure companies about supporting people with autism in the workplace. The welcome we received was truly exceptional.

Gamuda, a company with over 3,500 employees, working in a fabulously wide variety of sectors has decided it wants to create opportunities. This is a message directed from the very top and already involves support for a number of people with disabilities and there are high ambitions to increase this.

After a brief introduction and exploring what Autism is and how it may impact on work life, Keith and I from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, shared stories of how people have been supported to become valuable and respected employees in a variety of settings. This attempted to show how small changes have made a big difference to their success at work and in some cases have improved the working environment for everyone.

The team was deeply impressed with the fact that the presentation was attended by over 100 people from the organisation. Not only did this serve to illustrate the importance of this initiative to the company but, indeed the level of commitment by the staff team.

Further cases studies offered an opportunity for the participants, which included both the chairman and the chief executive – another show of commitment - to consider possible responses to real life scenarios.

This is just one great example of how employers can and do make a difference when we get the right support, the right approach and the right attitude. Business-led partnerships can have real impact.

We look forward to further developments.