Our project aims to give professionals the tools they need to succeed in supporting autistic students and graduates. Today we want to share a glimpse of our training material for career advisors.
How the training material came to be
As we interviewed students and graduates for the IMAGE Project, it soon became clear that some of the careers advisors they had seen did a great job of providing the right support at the right time.
We wanted to package up the expertise of those clued-up advisors and share it with all the others. With our new, research-based training package for careers advisors, we are doing just that.
We’ve tried to keep it simple: a two- to three-hour training session packed with information, engaging activities, and realistic discussions about the issues autistic students and graduates have faced when seeking work.
What does the material contain?
The training revolves around the questions autistic students sought advice on and the solutions that have worked for them and for careers advisors. For example, what do you say when an autistic person asks how best to handle the issue of discussing their autism in an employment context?
We’ve also included material and activities to help careers advisors ensure that their own practices are inclusive, so that autistic job-seekers are not disadvantaged when seeking help as well as in the job market.
This includes knowing what questions to ask before your first meeting, and considering new ways of supporting clients that may work especially well for people on the autism spectrum.
We think the training will also help careers advisors better support other job-seekers, such as people experiencing anxiety or depression.
If delivering effective job-hunting and careers advice to the highly educated workforce of the future is your goal, the ideas and practices covered in this new training package can help you achieve it.
The package has been designed to include both written material and a structured PowerPoint presentation, which includes video clips that show typical scenarios and interactive exercises.
Although staff could gain from looking at the materials on their own, they have been designed for use in the work setting—perfect for part of a training day or an after-hours training session.
Final tweaks and publication of the finished materials
We are delivering an evaluated pilot of the training in early April, after which the materials will receive their final update. Shorter? Longer? More interactive? Two groups of experienced and less experienced careers advisors will let us know.
The final version will be released as the centerpiece of a conference on improving the employment prospects of highly educated people with autism in Amsterdam later this year.
After the conference the training material will be freely available for use by careers advice teams within and outside of universities, and by other professionals who provide careers support to autistic students/graduates, such as autism coaches, job coaches, and staff at employment agencies and benefits agencies.
The materials will be available in five European languages: English, Dutch, French, German and Finnish.