TalkTalk has joined together with charity Ambitious about Autism to launch an employability programme in the North West of England.

The programme, Employ Autism, aims to prepare 10,000 young people living with autism for work by 2022, and TalkTalk has been announced as lead partner in expanding the programme to the North West. In doing so, the group will offer work placements over the summer months.

The programme will officially be launched in today at the Soapworks in Salford by TalkTalk’s CEO, Tristia Harrison, and Ambitious about Autism’s chief executive, Jolanta Lasota.

They will be joined by Ali MacCallum, CEO of Kinetic media group, who will talk about his experiences managing young people on the Employ Autism programme. Other leading businesses will also be in attendance, including ITV, the BBC, and Marks and Spencer, who will be encouraged to join the partnership.

Tristia said: “TalkTalk has always celebrated diversity and promoted inclusion in the workplace.

“We are proud to be partnering with Ambitious about Autism to enable thousands of autistic young adults reach fulltime employment. Through showcasing the wonderful capabilities of this programme at our event we hope this will encourage other leading businesses to follow suit.”

Jolanta said: “Many autistic young people face bleak employment prospects – and yet we know these young people have so much to offer the workplace.

“Neurodiversity and different ways of thinking and problem solving can bring huge benefits to businesses, and we hope our Employ Autism programme will help employers unlock this untapped potential.

“We hugely appreciate TalkTalk’s support in partnering with us, reinforcing its recognition of the significant and positive impact these programmes can have.”

The partnership will link together employers, local authorities, educational institutes, specialist agencies, and young people. Those who participate will also be offered paid, meaningful work placements, which open doors to specialist careers advice and work experience to support the transition from education to employment.

According to research published by the National Autistic Society in 2016, only 16% of adults living with autism are in full-time employment. The partnership hopes to break down barriers which prevent people living with autism to gain meaningful employment, which will encourage neurodiversity in the workplace.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “It is fantastic to hear Talk Talk’s plans for the Ambitious about Autism programme and showcasing the work they are doing to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace to other businesses.

“TalkTalk is at the forefront of this movement and has raised millions over the past decade to push autism awareness forwards and we are proud to have the business and their employees in our city.”

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