Increasing employability for those on the autistic spectrum

John Barrington speaks about how he got his current placement at construction firm Murphy through an innovative programme to boost the employability of people on the autistic spectrum.

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John Barrington started working at construction group Murphy as a Rail Training and Assessments Administrator last year. The advert was specifically aimed at people on the autistic spectrum, which encouraged him to apply as he felt being on the spectrum had affected past job applications

He says: “I thought I’d take a chance and apply for the role to see if I’d have a better chance of getting the job, plus I wanted to work in an admin role, feeling the role would be more suited to my strengths as per my being on the spectrum.”

Before coming to Murphy, John had had several jobs. He worked as a warehouse operative, as a sales assistant in the retail sector and in an office as a data entry clerk. He also did some remote call centre work a few months before he joined Murphy. 


During his interview for Murphy he was given the opportunity to discuss the details of the role, the tasks that he felt he would perform best at and those where he might face challenges, such as using a phone. The conversation meant he could prepare himself and his manager to take account of these. 

John says he has been given tasks which he is comfortable with doing and has been able to learn how to do them quickly. He has particularly enjoyed doing data entry on the Excel database and says his manager has made it easy for him to ask any questions he might have. He has regular one-to-ones with her so she can see how he is managing.

He thinks his placement is broadening his skillset – for instance, he has been doing things, such as sorting through assessment folders, that he has not done before. He has also enjoyed learning about working as an office administrator and about the different kinds of training that his department offers.

He adds that the people at Murphy, whose work to get more people on the autistic spectrum into the business has won them this year’s WM People Top Employer Award for Special Innovation, have been very welcoming: “The people here are very friendly, and I am able to ask them questions without feeling any embarrassment about looking silly by asking them.”

Chantal Wills, Senior Administrator in Rail Training and John’s line manager, says: “I have truly enjoyed every moment of John working with myself and the team here at Rail Training & Assessments. John comes into work on time, any task I have gone through with him he has done and he has worked so hard. He has gone out of his comfort zone and introduced himself to staff even though he advised he was unsure he could. He is a truly amazing person and I am honoured for him to be on our team and with the Murphy business.”

John hopes to continue in his role and is looking forward to moving house next year, now that he is in full-time employment.

*John features in the WM People Best Practice Report alongside interviews with all the winners of this year’s Top Employer Awards. The report is out in the next few weeks.

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