Unemployment for neurodivergent adults runs at least as high as 30-40% which is three times the rate for people with disability, and eight times the rate for people without disability. Exact figures are unknown because there are few resources that track the specifics of unemployment among a wide range of neurodiversity, not just autism but also ADHD, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and many other neurological differences. Unfortunately, in many cases the research needed for developing these statistics does not exist yet. However, even at the most conservative of estimates, millions of neurodivergent adults are struggling to find meaningful employment that allows them to live independent, fulfilling lives.
UConn’s Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation seeks to lead. The center will develop and share the critical innovations necessary to improve employment outcomes for neurodivergent adults and the companies that employ them.
Neurodiversity refers to the concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal, and that brain functioning that is not “neurotypical” should not be stigmatized or excluded. People with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and other neurological differences are collectively referred to as neurodivergent individuals.
THE EMPLOYMENT CHALLENGE
Neurodivergent adults who are eager to work professionally are often left out of the workforce or forced into lower skill jobs for a variety of reasons - non-inclusive hiring and retention practices, lack of employer education and training, absence of support ecosystems on the job, and skill differences or needs that often do not align with standard business operations all contribute to the problem.
EMPLOYERS TAPPING NEW TALENT
Organizations have begun recognizing the value of hiring neurodivergent individuals. Their ability to approach problems differently and bring innovative solutions and ideas to the table creates real value. Moreover, increased levels of morale for all employees within an organization is often a result of greater levels of diversity and inclusivity. Lower turnover, higher productivity and better overall employee engagement create a compelling ROI story for companies pursuing a neurodiverse workforce.
Nationwide Talent Pipeline of Neurodivergent College Students: UConn’s Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation is excited to announce the University Council for Neurodiversity Employment. The University Council’s goal is for colleges and universities to work collectively and proactively to build a robust nationwide talent pipeline of neurodivergent (ND) college students. The council aims to produce ND college graduates who are better prepared for employment and more accessible to employers in need of their talents, and to utilize a standardized process for inclusive recruiting across member schools. Neurodiversity Training and Education More and more companies are discovering the value of including ND talent in their hiring strategies, yet many employers are unsure where to start or need help growing their programs. Companies are invited to engage the center to outline goals and objectives, understand the business case for neurodiversity inclusion at their organization, and scope out the implications of different options. Neurodivergent-Friendly Hiring Platforms Pilot Program Employers are invited to participate in this pilot program that enables organizations to explore the benefits and effectiveness of ND-friendly hiring platforms that provide employer education in neurodiversity recruiting and a supply of ND candidates for their open positions. Leveraging artificial intelligence, community-driven design, and the latest technologies, these platforms provide an integrated solution for employers interested in receiving a list of candidates that “match” their positions’ needs and organization’s support systems.
Neurodiversity Internship Pilot Program Many companies are interested in considering ND candidates for their internship needs, but it can be resource-intensive to learn how to design programs and structure supports. Employers are invited to participate in this pilot program that provides employers with customized coaching throughout the internship process to help them design their internship roles, source candidates, and manage the program once it is underway. This is an excellent opportunity for companies to start small and grow their initiatives.
Neurodiversity Hiring Pilot Program (Mentra)
UConn and CSD recognize the importance of supporting neurodivergent students’ unique needs in their pursuit of internships and post-graduation employment. We are excited to share a Neurodiversity Employment Pilot Program using a tool called Mentra which you can now use to match with job and internship opportunities at companies that seek and value your neurodiversity! How does Mentra help you?
Mentra’s platform helps you develop a holistic profile of yourself that supplements your resume and better captures your strengths and accommodations needs
Mentra automatically matches you with employers educated in neurodiversity inclusion for positions that align with your profile, and sends them your information
You can also independently express interest in any roles posted on the platform
Mentra provides guidance and mentorship to candidates to ensure job readiness
Please register in TWO places:
The link to register with UConn’s Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation is here. By registering, you will receive information about this pilot and other neurodiversity employment opportunities.
For more information about the Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation at UConn, contact:
Director, Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation Judy.Reilly@uconn.edu