Employment Futures

Employment Futures exists to help remove barriers to meaningful employment for autistic adults and/or those with learning difficulties.

Staff at the North East Autism Society are proud to have helped a talented young man take an important step into the world of work.

Having graduated university with a first-class honours degree in graphic design, Morgan Briggs wanted to use his talent for design and illustration to make his own way in the world.

However it wasn’t plain sailing for the 22-year-old and, a year after graduating, Morgan found he was struggling not only to get a job in his field, but to secure employment of any kind.

Morgan was only diagnosed as autistic while at university and, following his diagnosis, the Job Centre put him in touch with NEAS and he began meeting regularly with employment specialist Barrie Lund.

“From the start, Morgan was an absolute pleasure to work with,” says Barrie. “It was immediately obvious that he possessed many traits that employers are actively looking for: he had a real eye for detail, and he was on time for every single meeting we had.

We talked about what he wanted to achieve, and he told me about his ambition to work as a graphic designer, but that he wanted to break into the workforce to get some proper experience first and earn his own money.

With more than 30 years of experience working with autistic people, the key to Barrie’s success lies in appreciating and understanding that there is no such thing as a ‘typical autistic person’.

 The next autistic person I meet may as well be the first autistic person I’ve met, because everyone is completely different. People may share traits, but everyone – autistic or not – is an individual person who deserves to be treated as such.

We want to focus on every person’s skills and abilities, not what people may wrongly label ‘disabilities’. We also want employers to realise that if they do hire a neurodiverse person, they’ll be bringing some real strengths to the team.

Barrie helped Morgan to recognise his own strengths and how to present these to employers, as well as how to disclose the fact that he is autistic.

Barrie explains: “Positive disclosure is all about being upfront with an employer about who you are, and that can mean telling them about a disability or explaining that you’re autistic. What we encourage people in Morgan’s position to do is to focus on their strengths.

Yes, being autistic gives Morgan some social things to work on, but he’s never late, he’s a lightning-fast learner, and he’s got a talent for spotting anything that’s wrong or out of place. I helped him see that he really would be an asset to any employer.

Staff at NEAS and the Job Centre alike were delighted when just a few weeks later Morgan successfully landed a position working for Tesco in Hartlepool.

“We’re over the moon,” says Barrie. “This is Morgan’s first real chance to get some real-world experience, and I’m sure this will just be a massive boost to his self-confidence.

“We also chatted about how this could lead to other opportunities, and will likely help him get closer to finding something in the field he truly wants to work in.”

Though he may be setting out on the road to self-reliance, Morgan can relax knowing that Barrie and the NEAS team are there if he needs them.

I’ve told him that I’m here all the time to talk, that he’s got my number, and that he can ring me with any problems. Nothing is insurmountable, we can always help out – that’s what we’re here for.

“But to be honest, I think he’ll absolutely smash it.”

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