A South Tyneside training company which works with people on the autism spectrum and those with learning disabilities has recruited its first apprentice from its own course graduates.
Hilary Morgan from South Shields completed a skills training course with AutismAble. She excelled herself and has been appointed to support other people taking the same course that she did.
AutismAble works with young people aged 16 to 24 to help them fulfil their potential, providing free full and part time courses in skills to help prepare them for employment, and in vocational subjects ranging from art, photography and film making to business studies and customer services. Free education and training is available up to the age of 24 for anyone with a learning disability.
AutismAble education manager Andrew Forster said: “We train people with autism and those diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
“The last prevalence study in the UK was carried out in 2012 by the NHS Information Centre and the University of Leicester. This data indicated that 1.1 % of the UK population have an Autism Spectrum Condition.
“ More recently, a study in 2013 by The National Center for Health in the USA published findings from surveys of parents of children aged 6-17 that showed a prevalence rate for Autism Spectrum Condition of 1 in 50.
“These studies indicate that there could be between 1670 and 3000 young people in South Tyneside living with Autism who haven’t yet been diagnosed.”
The courses run by the company aim to prepare young people for the world of work, secure a job and prepare them for a better future.
Hilary is the first learner to be taken on after completing the skills course, which covers subjects such as preparing a CV and personal statement and looking at students’ ambitions and how they can achieve them.
Hilary, 21, has an Autism Spectrum Condition as well as spina bifida and uses a wheelchair and crutches. She completed the skills course last year, followed it up with a work placement and voluntary work at AutismAble and then secured a full time apprenticeship, managed by School Apprenticeships.
She said: “This is my first ever paid employment and I get first class support from Andrew and his team.
“My job as an apprentice is to support the class of learners, helping with their spelling and numeracy, and helping with administrative duties.
“I’m getting a wide variety of experience with the learners – the group needs different types of support from practical things like reading, to emotional support. It’s built up my confidence massively.
“This is a non-discriminatory role and doesn’t hinder me because of my disability.”
Once she has completed her apprenticeship, Hilary is planning to seek employment as a teaching assistant.
Andrew said: “It’s great to have Hilary on the team. Because she has already taken the skills course herself, she can really relate to the current learners and support them as they study.
“AutismAble is now aiming to take on at least one apprentice a year from our learners and we hope to lead other employers by our example.”
The company also provides workshops and training for business, SEN support for schools and business enterprise support for young people with ideas to start their own micro-businesses.