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After a consultation period with autistic people, supporters, and relevant statutory and charity services, the ground-breaking Buckland Autism Employment Review led by Sir Robert Buckland has officially been published February 28, 2024.  

Who is Sir Robert Buckland?

Sir Robert Buckland KC MP has a key focus in Autism research and has led this report supported by Autistica, together they have developed a set of recommendations which stand to improve the working conditions of all employees.

This report is relevant to both autistic people, employers, charities, and HR professionals and post publication, an independent non-government taskforce is now in place to monitor the progress of Buckland’s plan.

To ensure the working conditions of autistic people improve this plan focuses on:

  • Identifying and addressing barriers to thriving in the workplace
  • How employers can make a positive difference for autistic people

London South Bank University (LSBU) is proud to have contributed to this consultation and their continued involved throughout the five-year implementation period will see delivery of research informed Continued Professional Development (CPD) courses on neurodivergence for employers. This offer will consider neurodivergence more broadly and will be informed by both LSBU’s research and the practical and revolutionary Buckland recommendations.

What are the stats?

Whilst most autistic people can work, the review has shown only about 3 in 10 of working-age autistic people have jobs. This includes graduates who are often in insecure employment and or in jobs not directly relevant to their chosen degree qualifications.  

The review identifies the types of employment barriers autistic people face including:

  • Recruitment processes such as interviews not playing to autistic strengths
  • Not disclosing an autism diagnosis to employers for fear of discrimination and masking (social camouflaging) in the workplace
  • Employment gaps in CV’s particularly work experience
  • Insufficient time and support given for autistic individuals to learn and develop employment skills
  • Lack of proactive actions by employers to implement reasonable adjustments.
  • Lack of employer awareness on how to support autistic employees effectively

So, what can a business do to help tackle this?

The review explored five key themes:

  1. What can we do to help people understand autism?  
  1. What more we can do to help autistic people get ready to start working?  
  1. How can employers change how they look for new staff, so they are fairer to autistic people?  
  1. How can employers support their autistic staff?
  1. How can employers support autistic staff to be promoted and earn more?

The review highlights 19 changes that encourage employers to collaborate and share ideas on best practice to nurture autistic talent. This includes supported internships, the New Government Universal Support Programme, the Disability Confident scheme and Access to Work Guidelines, as well as the 2018 Neurodiversity at Work Guidance and online services such as Support with Employee Health and Disability (SEHD).  

In addition, it has found careers advisors should be better equipped to understand the various guidelines and programmes listed above and be sources of advice for autistic people who want to be self-employed. Companies can also check in with The Recruitment and Employment Confederation who advises on the best ways to find new staff and address discriminatory recruitment practices.  

A key conclusion of the review is the need for collaboration to help develop relevant training for both employers and employees. Autism design guides for different types of employers, computer programmes and groups that support staff to develop new skills are several examples of actions that could reduce these barriers to employment,

How is LSBU working towards workplace neuroinclusion?

Collaboration is a core theme of LSBU’s Critical Autism and Disabilities Studies Research Forum (CADS) who have a long history of employing neurodivergent researchers and autistic researchers with PhD’s who unfortunately do not have permanent academic positions due to research funding and contracts often being short-term. This means autistic talent is often wasted due to infective systems that don’t enable autistic people to thrive.

These projects are by and for autistic/neurodivergent people and have focused on educational transitions, such as the transitory period from university to work which have created positive outcomes for autistic and neurodiverse individuals.

The projects’ results now feed into LSBU’s neurodivergence for employers CPD offering, - accredited by the CPD Standards Office - and home in on the various aspects of the employment journey, from good practice in recruitment, mentoring, peer relationships, technological support, through to management through to promotion. These sessions can be delivered effectively in-person or online, flexible in length as bite sizesized chunks, half/whole day sessions and or shorter webinars plus bespoke packages available upon consultation.  

So, what next?

LSBU is working to ensure our research informs both policy change and practice which will be informed by and of benefit to autistic and neurodivergent people and society as a whole.

But how will you introduce neuroinclusion in your workplace? Find out more at our Business Connector Buckland Review event on Thursday 6 June.

Professor Nicola Martin,  

Social Justice and Inclusive Education

School of Law and Social Sciences

London South Bank University  

Nicola Martin
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