A young man with Asperger’s syndrome has found his ideal job thanks to a successful work experience programme delivered by Staffordshire County Council.
Twenty-six-year-old Luke Harrison is the latest person to benefit from the ‘Open Door’ programme, having secured a job as a Business Support Assistant at the local authority.
After working for over ten years in his local fish and chip shop, Luke who has Asperger’s, a form of autism, decided that it was time for a change and that he wished to pursue a career working in an office setting. He knew that making the move wasn’t going to be easy and that his condition also meant communication and the whole interview process could be difficult.
Luke saw ‘Open Door’ advertised online and after contacting the team, completed a 12-week placement with the Care Commissioning team at the local authority.
Luke’s placement involved supporting the team and he was instrumental in the delivery of a promotional campaign to raise awareness of autism and learning difficulties. This experience, his newfound skills and the knowledge he gained, resulted in Luke securing a full time job with the authority which he will start in September.
Luke (above and main image) said: “Open Door was really helpful getting me work experience. My manager and the team were very kind and understanding to my ‘quirkier’ mannerisms and whenever I needed help, there was always someone I could ask.
“I have learnt many new skills from using Microsoft Teams, and taking part in team away days, to maintaining databases and research. It has been really useful to work from an office and establish a working routine. I really feel my confidence has grown, and I am really excited to start my new job and see what the future holds.”
Kate Harrold (main image with Luke), Luke’s manager and Commissioning Officer at Staffordshire County Council added: “As soon as I met Luke, I knew he was capable of securing paid employment. He has been an excellent addition to the team; always punctual, he has great attention to detail, and he has been very competent working independently.
“All Luke needed was an opportunity to build his skills and confidence and with the help of the Open Door programme and a little support and guidance he was able to flourish. I wish him all the best in his new role.”
Philip White, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills at Staffordshire County Council said: “We know that finding a job or changing career can be particularly difficult and stressful for people with autism and certain disabilities and this is where Open Door can help.
“Helping people to improve their skills, change careers or simply move up the career ladder remains a priority for the county council and is essential in growing our economy. It also means that people will be in a better position to take advantage of the better skilled jobs in the future. Luke’s story is a great example of how the programme can help people and I wish him the best of luck in his new career.”
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment, despite 77% wanting to find work and see organisations benefiting from a more neurodiverse workforce.
The Open Door programme offers people a tailored 12-week work experience placement, within a wide variety of job roles to suit the career they are looking for. It’s available to anyone over 18 and focuses on helping people who face difficulties and barriers in finding work. This could include people with disabilities, mental health issues, ex-offenders, children leaving care, school leavers and graduates.”
For further details on the Open Door programme visit Work placement – Open Door – Staffordshire County Council
More information about the Celebrating Differences campaign that Luke worked on is available at Celebrating Differences promotional campaign – Staffordshire County Council