The employment statistics for autistic individuals in British Columbia make for depressing reading. It’s estimated that of the 50,000 adults diagnosed as being somewhere on the autism spectrum, 80% are either unemployed, or underemployed, meaning that they’re in work that doesn’t match their qualifications, skills and experience.
There are several reasons for these dismal autism employment numbers. Firstly, there is still widespread negativity held towards autistic individuals, both consciously and subconsciously, despite an increase in autism awareness programming. Secondly, there is a general assumption that all autistic adults are incapable of coping with a neurotypical workplace without extensive support; this couldn’t be further from the truth as there are many ways for autistic workers of all support levels to find success in the workplace. Finally, nearly all job hiring processes are heavily biased towards neurotypical individuals, from the job advert through to the face to face interview.
It’s hardly surprising, therefore, to see surveys and polls of autistic individuals across Canada showing negative attitudes towards getting work. However, with the right support and guidance, all willing autistic adults should be able to find meaningful employment. The following are 5 top tips for employment for autistic British Columbians.
1: Find Autism Friendly Companies
A growing number of multinational companies, such as SAS, JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft, are starting to realize the massive untapped potential of autistic employees. This neurodiverse hiring trend is slowly trickling down into the provinces of Canada, and each year there are more and more companies trying to make themselves autism friendly. Autistic job seekers should always add “autism friendly” into any job search as they are considerably much more likely to get hired by a company who believes in the power of neurodiversity.
2: Get Trained Up
A large part of any job seeking process is to find the best training opportunities that will maximize the chances of meeting the job criteria. For autistic individuals, there are a whole host of online training courses in most fields that are well suited to autistic workers (IT, accounting and research to name just three). There are also autism specific trainings that cover life skills such as navigating the morning commute and learning how to advocate for accommodations that will make the job successful.
3: Find A Job Seeking Mentor
It seems there’s a coach or a mentor for everything these days, but finding a job seeking mentor is a great step for any autistic worker. These individuals will provide support, guidance and motivation all the way through the job hunting process, and will be able to help autistic job seekers to navigate the neurodiverse hiring processes. They will either charge by the hour or on the successful completion of the job hunting mission; in either case, the money will be well spent.
4: Start At The Bottom
Many larger organisations still follow a hierarchical structure by which employees gain promotions and better pay through good job performance. It is therefore possible for autistic job seekers to find a position below what they’re capable in a field that they will excel in, or with a company who has the ability to help them grow and develop both as a worker and as a person. This gives them the opportunity to rise up through the ranks to find a better fit that makes use of their skills and experience.
5: Sign Up With A Talent Management Agency
Finally, there are several talent management agencies Vancouver that specialize in autism employment. These organisations usually operate on a consultancy basis, where they go and actively seek out well qualified autistic workers and match them with partner companies who are ready and able to take on autistic workers. There are many benefits of signing up with a talent management agency, from a personalised approach to the job seeking process all the way through to the post hiring support.
It’s clear to see that while it’s possible to navigate the world of employment with a few helping hands heer and there, an autism job seeker iis way more likely to find success by signing up with an autism talent management agency. Here at Focus, we like to get to know each potential client first so that we can match them to the best training and support as they hunt for a job. We then work with our partner organisation Orbital to set up interviews and provide support, both to the hiring company and the autistic individual. With this double team, there’s every reason to hope for a dramatic increase in British Columbia’s autism employment numbers.