Like many young chamber sponsors we are passionate about bridging the gap between the workplace and education, we have taken place in many employment and career events for not just young chamber but also Big Ideas Wales and Glyndwr University, however we consider our journey to be extra special.
Due to the director’s own personal experience of people with Autism, we made a promise last year to open up opportunities within the digital industry for the neuro-diverse community.
We have worked with local schools & colleges to give 6 work placements over the last 12 months for students who struggled to get quality work placements due to their additional needs and we have made adjustments to our working space in order to make them more ASD friendly.
After speaking at various forums, support groups and events (including Wrexham’s first Autism Employment Conference) we realised that this was not enough and that more needed to be done in order to close the gap in unemployment within the ASD community, which is currently 80% with 70% of people ‘desperate’ to work.
In response to this shocking statistic we went on a mission to speak with more parents, young people (and old people too) and look at how we might best reduce this statistic and make better opportunities for Autistic talent in the digital space, because if we as a small business can make a difference then just maybe it would inspire others to follow suit.
We identified that the 3 biggest issues facing the ASD community were lack of Flexibility in working hours, lack of understanding within the wider business community and that academic qualifications were a massive barrier to entry to work based training such as apprenticeships.
3 months later the Aut-dacious project was born, a fully vocational and skill based course for people on the spectrum. Students will work in a supported environment to learn high value skills such as Website Management, SEO and Social Media. The project then goes a step further and either: works with other organisations to place them into a role, or give them the opportunity to work on a freelance basis, on projects with Tree Frog managing the relationship with the customer.
The response we have had from local businesses, local education providers and the Autistic Community has been overwhelming, with parents of young people ringing us out of the blue asking for their children to be part of this before we had even launched the project. In fact during one steering group a parent stood up in the middle of the session and Hugged me and said “we need more businesses like this”
I couldn’t agree more! … It has been a long hard road, and we couldn’t be happier, to receive a recognition from the Chamber of Commerce makes us very proud indeed.