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Autistic young people celebrate success after taking part in innovative fair 

A group of eight autistic young people, age 19 to 23, have taken part in a reverse jobs fair in the hope of securing competitive internships with London-based employers.  

Adam (20), Aliyah (19), Daniel (23), Lucy* (19), Jesse (19), Kalem (19), Abigail* (22) and Taylor (19) all have places on our supported internship programme.  

Following the event, intern Jesse secured paid work experience with the creative agency, Sugar For My Soul, supporting its work at the Oxford-Cambridge boat race. 

Supported internships are courses aimed at young people aged 16-25, who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and want to move into work but need extra support to do so. 

Our programme has helped them to learn and develop valuable employability and competitive work skills which they showcased at the fair at the Wittington Education Centre, North London, on Tuesday 8 March. 

The Wittington NHS Trust, which is the primary partner of our supported internship programme, offering a number of internships to autistic young people, kindly loaned us the space to host the event.  

Like a traditional jobs fair, the young people met with prospective employers to find out about different career paths and open positions. However, at a reverse jobs fair, employers circulate the room visiting candidates, instead of the other way round.   

The innovative model aims to make the experience less daunting for the candidate as they do not have to approach potential employers themselves. It also streamlines the process, preventing the room from feeling overcrowded at bustling.  

We chose the reverse format as some autistic people find social interactions difficult or tiring and many process sensory information differently, meaning they can be oversensitive to any of the senses and find busy and crowded situations overwhelming.  

At the event, our interns sat at desks around the room with copies of their CVs which they presented to employers from Sugar For My Soul, the City of London Police, Whittington Health NHS Trust, private hospital The London Clinic and fire safety company Millwood Servicing.  

Speaking about the experience, intern Taylor said:  

“I thought meeting the employers was going to be scarier than it turned out to be. When I was talking to them, I was reminded that they are just another person like me.  

“I spoke to them about my previous work experience and skills, and it was interesting to hear about the different jobs available.” 

Henrietta Valler-Still, Employability Lead at Ambitious about Autism, said:  

“We are incredibly proud of the group of young people who took part in our reverse jobs fair. It has given them the opportunity to find out about and get inspired by versatile career paths and demonstrate their skills and experience to potential employers.  

“Only 29% of autistic people are in any form of work which is, in part, due to inaccessible job seeking processes. This is why events like this are so important - they enable autistic young people to network and showcase their talents in a setting that accommodates their needs and allows them to thrive.  

“We’re grateful to the employers who joined us at the event and would encourage other London-based businesses to get in touch if they are interested in partnering with the programme.”


*Names have been changed at the request of the young people