‘Digital Skills’ programme for young people with autism

‘Digital Skills’ programme for young people with autism
‘Digital Skills’ programme for young people with autism

‘Digital Skills’ programme for young people with autism

Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, is launching a free ‘Digital Skills’ programme to equip young people with autism with the skills needed to gain employment in the digital industry.

The programme is open to young people, aged 16-25, who live in the West Midland Combined Authority post code areas.

The ten-week programme has been designed to meet each individual learner’s requirements and needs, and will build practical and digital skills, helping to raise the aspirations and confidence of those who take part.

“The programme, which is full-time, will also give participants high quality work experience in a digital environment,” explained Michael Jones, Employment Support Worker at Caudwell Children. “It will help individuals to better understand the world of employment and help them to progress into paid work.”

A report by the National Autism Project, in 2017, found that only 15% of autistic people in England were in full-time, paid, employment whilst 66% of autistic people were not in employment of any kind.

“The report also found that those autistic people in employment were more likely to be in low or unskilled positons, which means low paid occupations,” continued Michael. “This leads to families having to financially support unemployed or low paid autistic people and this creates a dependency that can have a direct impact on mental health, wellbeing and general social skills.”

Michael says that many young people with autism struggle to transition from childhood into the work environment and says that the programme, which will start in July, 2020, will support them in fulfilling their aspirations. As he explained: “Despite many autistic young people being highly capable and having great potential, unemployment seems to be a widespread and long-term issue within the autistic community.

“We believe this is something that very much needs to change, not in the future but now.

“So this programme, which is flexible to meet the needs of each individual, will give young autistic people the chance to upskill themselves.”

The programme will be tailored to suit the unique needs of each learner and will include; enrolment and induction, pre-work placement preparation, full-time skills programme, individual development of employment and digital skills, and practical on-the-job learning in a high quality work experience placement.

“We will have clear records of achievement and regular reviews of progress,” said Michael. “And we’ll combine working with the learner and employer to ensure placements are successful.

“If lock-down continues to affect some businesses we have the potential to change the structure to five weeks of online learning followed by a five-week placement.”

The ‘Digital Skill’ programme, delivered in partnership with training provider RISUAL, also aims to change the mind-sets of employers by providing work place training for those with autism.

“By working directly with employers we can ensure that reasonable adjustment requirements are met, and by allowing young autistic people access to work employers will have a better understanding of their needs,” concluded Michael.

Acceptance onto the programme will be subject to pre-requirements and eligibility checks.

Thought to be the first programme of its kind in the UK, if this 2 ½ year pilot is successful it would become a national service across the UK.

To find out more and register your interest prospective participants are being asked to sign up to one of Caudwell Children’s free online webinars on either the 15th or 29th May, 2020, or 12th or 26th June, 2020. Visit the website here.

To discuss the programme further call or text Michael Jones on 07824 431868 or email: Michael.jones@caudwellchildren.com

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