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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-13276: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 8 December 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to (a) monitor and (b) improve employment opportunities for young people with autism.

Answered by: Jamie Hepburn 11 January 2018

Effective and accurate collection and monitoring of employment data is important to ensure we can assess the extent to which we are making progress helping particular groups, including young people with autism. We are working to ensure that through the new devolved employment service, Fair Start Scotland, we are able to capture accurate data on types of disability.

This approach is in line with the recommendations of the 2016 report from the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability which highlighted the need to ‘substantially improve recording and reporting of learning disabilities data’.

We recognise the particular challenges people with autism face, including that only 16% of adults with autism are in full time paid employment.

Since the publication of the current autism strategy, a range of projects have been put in place to help support people with autism:

  • One of the thirteen projects selected to receive funding from the Employability Innovation and Integration Fund over the period of 2017-19 will see West College Scotland implement a package of employment support for 50 people with disabilities, including Autism.

  • The Autism Innovation and Development Fund has supported a number of third sector organisations to provide individuals with the skills to take up employment opportunities.

  • We are supporting a range of supported employment models, including Project SEARCH, to support people with autism to find employment. We will continue to work with our partners to promote personal outcomes approaches.

  • The Open Doors Consortium is providing specialist employer support to young people across Scotland, tailored to the needs of the individual.

  • Through the Scottish Government’s Cashback for Communities initiative, the National Autistic Society Scotland have received 3 years funding to deliver their employment project Moving Forward to over 300 young people between 16 – 24.

Following national engagement, and building on the work undertaken during the period of the current strategy, we will publish a new Autism Strategy for 2018-2021. This will include further action to increase employment levels among people of all ages with autism as part of our ambition to more than half the disability employment gap.