Survey finds most employers have autistic staff, but they know little about the syndrome or ways to cope with it
About half of young adults with autism have never held a job for more than a year, and two thirds of employers have little or no knowledge of the syndrome, a recent study has found.
Heep Hong Society, an autism support group, called on the government to improve employment support services for youngsters with autism and other special needs, in time for World Autism Awareness Day on Monday, April 2. Incentives for employers and more education were also needed to reduce discrimination against jobseekers with special needs, the society said.
“The government, as the largest employer in Hong Kong, should lead the way by providing more internship posts for young people with special needs,” said Heep Hong’s regional manager, Godwin Cheung Chi-sing.
Heep Hong polled 45 autistic service users, who had an average age of 26, and 27 employers. Half of the autistic youth reported that the most long-lived job they had ever had lasted for less than one year, among which more than half lost their jobs within three months. Among the 35 employed at the time of the survey, most were working as clerks, and catering and logistics staff. Though all of them had secondary or higher education, and more than 70 per cent received vocational training, their median monthly income was HK$6,700 – about half the median salary for general employees aged between 20 and 29 in 2016.
Though 78 per cent of employers had autistic employees, more than 66 per cent said they had little or no knowledge of the syndrome or ways to cope with it.