A package of support to help thousands of autistic workers find work and stay in jobs, has been announced by the government.

Fifteen Jobcentre Plus sites will be testing a framework to become more autism-friendly, which, if successful will be rolled out across the UK.

The framework pilot is being designed with the National Autistic Society (NAS) and aims to help people on the spectrum find, retain and progress in jobs.

26,000 work coaches are also getting accessibility training to improve jobcentre services for disabled people; which is being delivered in partnership with Microsoft.

Hector Minto, Lead Accessibility Evangelist at Microsoft, said: In creating this training with DWP, built on our own internal training, we found there is terrific passion and energy in this workforce to share their knowledge with jobseekers. I am confident that it will drive real impact and help us tackle a real challenge in society.

The work coaches will also look at how they can support disabled jobseekers with tools including immersive readers, magnifiers and automated captions.

The Jobcentre hopes this will improve managing daily work tasks for people who need it and also help them complete job applications and get on better in interviews.

There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK, with one in 100 people diagnosed as autistic according to the National Autistic Society. 

The charity’s research has found that the vast majority of autistic people want to get into work.

Christine Flintoft-Smith, Head of Autism Accreditation at the National Autistic Society, said:

“We want all Jobcentre staff to understand autism, be able to think about their practice and make the necessary changes to the support and environment that autistic people need. We look forward to our continued work with the team at DWP to get jobcentres working better for autistic people, and to get more autistic people in the jobs that they want and deserve.”

Many are often unable to get into work, because of a lack of knowledge within employers and colleagues who might not understand how certain environments can have extreme anxiety-inducing tendencies.

The Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith said she hopes the framework will help break down these barriers to put more autistic people in jobs where they are valued.

The move is part of the government’s plan to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027.

Chloe Smith said: “The framework explores how best to support autistic people into employment, including ensuring jobcentre appointments with autistic customers take place in the right environment and educating local employers in the additional requirements of autistic workers.”

She added: “For example, many autistic people become distressed in busy, bright or noisy environments. As part of the pilot, jobcentre staff will therefore be asked to carry out appointments with customers triggered in this way in quieter rooms, with more appropriate lighting.”