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IMAGE: Improving Employability of Autistic Graduates in Europe

People with autism are entering higher education at an increasing and unprecedented rate. However, despite the many qualities that make them desirable employees, this competent group faces a substantial employment gap after graduation. They enter a fast-growing pool of untapped economic potential, preventing personal fulfilment and creating long-term costs to society.

The reasons are multifold: careers advice is ineffective; academic tutors lack understanding of how best to support autistic students develop employability skills or gain work experience; and employers are unsure how to support autistic graduates in the job.

The IMAGE project addresses these problems by:

  1. Creating an employability toolkit for autistic students so that they can develop their employability skills and better understand career goals;
  2. Developing new training materials for careers advisors so that they better support autistic students, and provide training to 400 advisors across the partner countries;
  3. Sharing examples of good support practice with academics, academic managers and policy makers and thereby make higher education sector more inclusive;
  4. Making employers better recognise the strengths and benefits of qualified autistic employees, and reduce disabling barriers to recruitment and employment.

The long-term impact will be greater autism awareness amongst professionals, more inclusive higher education institutions and procedures, better skilled autistic graduates, and ultimately more autistic graduates in employment.

IMAGE involves partners from 5 European countries. The project used a participatory design methodology, involving the target groups in the conception and design of all outputs. During the co-research and co-design activities, around 50 autistic students, 50 career advisors, 100 academics and 50 employers participated.

Employability toolkit for autistic students and their mentors

Employability toolkit for autistic students and their mentors

The final output of 3 years of research is the employability toolkit for autistic students and graduates, including training materials for career advisors to develop their skills and professional practice, and a set of good practice guides for professionals and employers to raise awareness of autism and become more autism-friendly. The tools have been developed from a strengths-based view on autism and are freely available in 5 languages.

Go to the toolkit

Publications

Project details