With research showing just 16% of autistic adults find themselves in full time employment, TRACK NN was launched to: work with employers to support them in making their workplace aware and accepting of autism and; to create opportunities for individuals and to support them to access employment. Café Track opened its doors in January 2019 in the very heart of Northampton Market Square. It marked a major step in TRACK NN’s journey to support autistic people to access employment. Since opening we have been able to support people of all ages to build up their skills and confidence in the workplace, and been able to support them in looking for their own chose employment pathway. Since January we have supported 13 people into paid employment. All of these individuals wanted to work, and in many cases needed just small environmental changes to ensure they can be successful in the workplace. As well as the individuals benefiting, they have all added value to their new employers. This is a key point for me. I don’t want businesses to employ autistic people because it is a nice thing to do, I believe that these people can add great value to a range of businesses. Through our partnership with ACS Recruitment we have been able to support individuals to move from temporary to permanent contracts in different settings, and these employees are adding value to their businesses. The process started with discussions with the employer, and then the production of a workplace guide so prospective employees could see what to expect. We then provided guidance for key staff so they could provide support for individuals, and this support continued as needed. Some of the small environmental changes which have been made include – using the same workbench each day, allowing the employee to be in place 10 minutes before start time and providing ear plugs. We have made our own environmental changes, with Alina from ACS Recruitment Solutions meeting with prospective employees at Café Track each Wednesday afternoon. Through hosting the meeting in a familiar environment, people are able to explain the types of work they are looking for and we then work together to find the right placement for them.
We have also used work experience opportunities to allow individuals to gain experience of a workplace to see if it is right for them, and then we have seen employers offering paid roles to meet the needs of these individuals. This approach allows both the employer and employee to establish the best fit, and through this forward thinking approach employers are able to access a wide range of talented individuals and jobs can be designed to meet the specific needs of the business, whilst also creating opportunities for individuals.
Once people are in place, Access To Work can provide on-going support for both the employer and the employee, this is funded by the DWP and allows for mentoring and training to ensure that employees can thrive in the workplace. As well as supporting people into paid employment we have also supported over 30 people into voluntary work or work experience placements, and had over 50 workplace visits to allow people to gain a greater understanding of the workplace. These experiences are invaluable for people looking to gain a greater understanding of the workplace. Following our event in conjunction with the University of Northampton and ACS recruitment at Pets at Home back in May, we have started working with a range of businesses, this work has ranged from initial discussions, through to workplace audits to support disability confident applications and creating paid employment positions. We are delighted to announce that our next event will take place on Friday 13th September at the University Of Northampton, and this is for businesses looking to find out more about the work we do and the benefits of employing a diverse workforce. Friends of Track was established to allow businesses to work in partnership with TRACK NN to support people to access employment and we would like to thank our existing Friends of Track (not sure if you can list them all) – ACS Recruitment, ACS Office Solutions, Goodwill Solutions, Issured Limited, Northampton Town Football Club, Franks and Co (south) Limited, Piroto Labelling, Office Odyssey, All Things Business, Gravitas HR Solutions.
If your businesses would like to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. To book your place on the next Introduction to Autism in the Workplace event at the University of Northampton on Friday September 13th please email charlotte Patrick at UoN. Early next year we will also be hosting a follow up event to this looking at supporting a diverse workplace.