(2) what training in autism awareness personal advisers at Jobcentre Plus receive.
[holding answer 10 December 2009]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is the responsibility of the chief executive, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Darra Singh:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking what training in autism awareness personal advisers at Jobcentre Plus receive and when her Department plans to extend autism awareness training to all Disability Employment Advisers at Jobcentre Plus. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Personal Advisers at Jobcentre Plus receive training that includes a general awareness of disability and disability issues. Additionally, this provides an understanding of the specialist roles so that staff are aware of the links with Disability Employment Advisers.
Jobcentre Plus policy is to develop its advisers in the skills required to manage a range of customers and to respect their individual needs, covering a variety of health conditions. The learning programme for Jobcentre Plus advisers focuses on raising awareness of customers' personal circumstances and the impact this may have on their ability to move into sustainable employment. Advisers are signposted to guide notes which include background information on a number of conditions, including Autistic Spectrum Condition, the implications for interviews and how to use questioning techniques in order to support customers.
Disability Employment Advisers, who focus on customers needing more extensive support, receive further levels of skills training appropriate to their customers, including skills practice in interviewing customers with Autistic Spectrum Condition. In addition, advisers including Disability Employment Advisers can seek help from their Work Psychologist colleagues to assist them in supporting customers where appropriate. All Jobcentres have access to Disability Employment Adviser services, either by being located within the Jobcentre or for example in more rural areas access to peripatetic Disability Employment Advisers who provide services across a number of locations.
I can advise you that all Disability Employment Advisers currently receive autism awareness as part of the standard training programme that they receive when they take on this role. I can also confirm that autism awareness will continue to be included in training for any future Disability Employment Advisers.