The TRACK NN Story… An Update: Autism in the Workplace
Back in April, I stepped away from the teaching career which I had followed to start up TRACK nn Limited, with the aim of supporting people with autism in the workplace. Having only ever experienced education as a career, I was faced with the daunting process of starting things up from scratch, so here is a quick check up on what we have done so far, and our plans for the future.
We were delighted to secure the investment required to start up TRACK, through a source whom are committed to supporting the business and individuals to fulfil their potential. The idea for the business came from the experiences of people I worked with who were trying to access employment but finding a number of barriers, and the shocking statistic that just 16% of autistic adults find themselves in full time employment. It made me angry/frustrated/upset to see such a diverse range of talents going to waste, and I wanted to do something about this.
TRACK set out to offer two main areas of support;
Training and Consultancy for businesses to ensure they and their colleagues are aware of and accepting of people with autism in the workplace. By doing so, they will not only benefit from a diverse workforce, but will also be able to gain the range of skills which autistic employees can provide
Creating Opportunities: through opening a café where people could come and develop skills in a supportive environment, and supporting people throughout the process, from job search through to successful placements.
So what have we done so far?
We have met with a variety of businesses throughout Northamptonshire and beyond and are now starting to set up personalised training and consultancy services for a range of businesses. From initial discussions it became clear that many businesses wanted to engage and support people, but many were worried about saying the wrong thing or were unsure of where to look for support. We are now looking at providing training from initial introductory awareness presentations through to looking at how organisations can ensure their policies and procedures are allowing people on the autism spectrum to thrive in their organisation.
We have become an accredited mentor for Autism Forward which means we can now offer up to £1500 worth of funded pre-employment mentoring to eligible candidates, and this can range from CV preparation and job search through to interview attendance and transition support. These sessions can be highly personalised in terms of content, location and outcomes, meaning that we can support on a 1-2-1 level to support people with autism in the workplace. We have found Autism Forward to be a fantastic organisation who share many of our values, especially in terms of putting the people we work with at the centre of everything we do.
Most importantly with have met with a range of people on the autism spectrum, whom have given us a great amount of support and guidance as to how we shape our business, and we are always looking at ways in which we can improve our offering.
With the opening of our Café in the near future (we have had a bid accepted and things are being handled by the solicitors at the moment) we cannot wait to offer the opportunity for people to start developing the skills required to access a variety of workplaces. We are going to be working with PTS Training Academy, and full details of our traineeship and apprenticeships will be unveiled over the forthcoming months.
We want to engage with more businesses and provide training to as many people across Northamptonshire (and beyond) as possible. By starting the conversations, we are dispelling myths and allowing people to see that by making small changes, the workplace can become accessible to people on the autism spectrum.
We also have some exciting announcements to make about a range of initiatives we are getting involved with ranging from sports teams, through to social activities and many more. Keep following us on social media and sign up for our email updates at our website www.track.org.uk
We believe that with small changes the workplace can become so much more accessible to people who want to work. From my experience the majority of autistic people do not want charity, they want opportunity. Work with us to help a create spectrum of opportunities which will benefit all of those involved.
Contact us and find out how we can work together. Thomas@track.org.uk
At this point we would also like to thank the following organisations for their support in helping TRACK nn Limited up and running:
Issured, Northampton Town Football Club, Northampton Football in the Community Trust, The University of Northampton, All Things Management, Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, Northamptonshire Growth Hub (Ready2Grow), Building Business Consultancy, ADiAM Social Media and all of the other businesses, organisations and individuals whom have met with us.