Digital_Skills

Andy Street urges young autistic people to join Digital Skills programme

Young autistic people in the West Midlands are being urged to sign up for a programme to help them land jobs in the digital sector.

The West Midlands Combined Authority is funding the free Digital Skills Programme, delivered in partnership with charity Caudwell Children, to equip young people with valuable skills and job application support to start a new career in the digital sector.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is encouraging more people to join the charity’s innovative 10-week programme. It provides cutting-edge digital skills alongside tailored employability workshops and tips to manage money.

The next round of the 10-week programme starts on Monday 22nd February and the charity still has a handful of places open for 18-25 year-olds with an autism diagnosis from across the West Midlands.

Joining the programme is straightforward and sessions, which run weekly on Mondays and Fridays, begin almost immediately.

Alongside the practical skills the young people will learn on the programme, the training will also help to lay foundations that will make it easier for them to find work.

Across the 10-week programme the young people will also help to create HR resources that employers can use to make their recruitment processes more inclusive.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said:

“We know that young people have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic challenge we’re now facing. This shows how important it is that we fund a wide range of free education and training programmes to help them get into work.

“Caudwell Children’s programme is designed to empower young people with autism and equip them with the skills and knowledge to enjoy a rewarding career, particularly in the jobs of the future that will require in-depth knowledge of digital technologies.

“Local employers will also benefit from the young people’s contributions to their recruitment processes, which will help attract a wider range of talent into their organisations.”

The next round of the programme is the third since its inception in June 2020.

Success stories so far include:

  • 21-year-old Ciarian Brennan from Sutton Coldfield who landed an apprenticeship at Heart of Birmingham Vocational College.
  • 20-year-old Conor Byrne from Telford who found part-time work and will use the practical skills as a springboard to a full-time job post-lockdown.
  • 24-year-old Lucie Davies from Sheldon in Birmingham who learned to code on the programme and is now looking for a role in the video game sector.
  • [More available on request]
CEO of Caudwell Children Trudi Beswick said:

 “There’s a lot of speculation about unemployment at the moment, and we know that there is typically a disproportionate impact of people with autism.

“Through this programme and the other services Caudwell Children offers we’re determined to change that by empowering people and changing perceptions to make UK workplaces more inclusive.

“This programme taps into young people’s strengths, boosts their confidence and provides the skills required to thrive in digital industries.

“It also blazes a trail for other autistic people by helping employers to break down the barriers that often prevent young people with autism from finding work.”

Caudwell Children runs the programme in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority and IT services firm Risual – with a further intake expected to begin in June. To apply visit www.caudwellchildren.com/digital-skills