Engage to Change briefing: Policy changes needed in Wales

Year of Publication: 

This briefing paper, written by Dr Steve Beyer, makes recommendations for the Welsh Government about how to improve employment support for people with autism and/or a learning disability. It draws on learning from the Engage to Change programme, a project for young people 16-25 years who are NEET (or at risk of becoming NEET) and have a learning difficulty, learning disability and /or autism.


  • Ring fenced funding for a National Job Coaching Service to provide the support people and employers need to get people with a learning disability or ASD into paid employment. This should be underpinned by a set of delivery standards to ensure quality.
  • Developing a National Supported Internship offer that enhances college and school transition to employment for people with a learning disability or ASD and that draws on a National Job Coaching Service. If implemented soon this could help reduce negative impacts on ALN college leavers this year.
  • Accelerate arrangements for inclusive apprenticeships and underpin a stake in this for people with a learning disability and ASD through the support of skilled job coaching mentioned above.
  • Additional liaison with DWP on Access to Work for internship programmes to ensure flexibility in payments for personal support. They need to match delays in employers offering places in the new academic year due to phased reintroduction of staff after lockdown. This will help retain skilled employment support staff during the phased return to placements.
  • Expansion of the proposed Job Support Wales scheme and the use of an element to contribute to a ring-fenced National Job Coaching Service to ensure people with learning disabilities or ASD are not left behind in the competition for new jobs post-Covid-19.
  • Explore the creation of an Employer Development Grant to offset wages of disabled people in the early stages of a job to help overcome competitive pressures employers may face to employ non-disabled people.
  • We believe that Welsh Government should encourage in any commissioning of job coach supported employment for people with a learning disability or ASD the use of specialised indigenous providers from within Wales to ensure effective job match and engagement of local employers.
  • Ensuring that any prime contractors bidding for public contracts are required to satisfy any specific specialist disability requirement within DWP or Job Centre Plus contracts through specialist indigenous providers based in Wales.