Highlights from the 2024 ENGAGE AGCAS report: Inclusivity for neurodivergent students and employees

As the UK moves towards greater inclusivity, understanding the unique strengths and challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals has become crucial in both educational and employment sectors. Neurodivergent students and employees, including those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other conditions, offer distinct perspectives and capabilities that can significantly enrich companies.

Yet, neurodivergent students in transitioning to careers experience prejudice and discrimination which can affect their ability to set and achieve career goals and develop career capital giving the confidence to help them succeed. In new research, led by University of Southampton and Lancaster University and supported by AGCAS, aims to understand the challenges faced by this student demographic and provide guidance to employers 

Here are some takeaways.  

Understanding neurodivergence in UK higher education 

Today, neurodivergent students represent a significant portion of the UK higher education population with roughly over 2.5 million students currently enrolled in higher education courses identifying as neurodivergent, according to the British Psychological Society. These students often excel academically, with many achieving high degree classifications, yet they face unique challenges during their educational journey and as they transition into the workforce. Providing tailored, one-on-one career support and development from day one, according to the AGCAS’ Engage report, alongside developing supportive networks are crucial in helping neurodivergent students navigate their academic and professional paths. Furthermore, creating psychologically safe spaces where these students feel valued and understood can significantly enhance their educational experience and outcomes. 

Challenges in the UK workforce 

Despite their potential, neurodivergent individuals often encounter significant obstacles in the UK workforce. Worldwide, neurodivergent employees choose not to disclose their conditions due to fears of discrimination and misunderstanding. This reluctance to disclose can lead to a lack of necessary accommodations, further exacerbating challenges in the workplace. 

The ENGAGE report identifies several barriers neurodivergent graduates face in employment, including difficulties in the recruitment process, a lack of flexible adjustments, and misunderstandings about neurodivergence. These barriers can result in neurodivergent individuals feeling compelled to "mask" their true selves, which can be mentally exhausting and detrimental to their wellbeing. 

Leveraging neurodivergent strengths 

Despite these challenges, many neurodivergent individuals possess unique strengths that can be highly beneficial in the workplace. Skills such as attention to detail, creativity, and resilience are often cited as areas where neurodivergent employees excel. The key is to create an environment where these strengths can be recognised and leveraged. Employers should take a note out of global accounting firm Ernest & Young (highlighted on 60 Minutes) which has expanded its recruiting and interviews processes to include hiring those on the Autism spectrum for roles in artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and cybersecurity. 

Employers and higher education institutions in the UK must work collaboratively to develop supportive structures that facilitate the success of neurodivergent individuals. As noted in the ENGAGE report, developing a clear understanding of neurodivergence among employers and educators is critical to removing barriers and promoting inclusivity. 

Creating inclusive work environments in the UK 

Adopting inclusive practices is critical to harnessing the full potential of neurodivergent of students and employees, UK organisations need to adopt inclusive practices. This involves recognising both the challenges and strengths associated with neurodivergence and providing the necessary support to navigate these aspects. For instance, offering flexible working arrangements, providing clear and structured communication, and fostering a culture of understanding and acceptance can make a significant difference. 

The ENGAGE report provides practical recommendations for creating inclusive environments. These include establishing partnerships between higher education institutions and employers to create tailored work experiences, ensuring ongoing training for staff on neurodiversity and allyship, and developing psychologically safe spaces where neurodivergent individuals can thrive. 


Neurodivergent students and employees bring valuable perspectives and skills to academic and professional settings in the UK. However, to fully realise their potential, it is essential to address the barriers they face and provide robust support systems. By fostering an inclusive environment that values and accommodates neurodivergent individuals, we can enhance their access to education and employment, ultimately benefiting UK society. 

Through collaborative efforts between UK higher education institutions, employers, and policymakers, we can create a more inclusive future where neurodivergent individuals can flourish and contribute meaningfully. As the ENGAGE report emphasises, it is not just about enabling neurodivergent individuals to adapt to existing structures but also about transforming these structures to be inherently inclusive and supportive. 

To discover how Symplicity CSM can help your institution leverage the potential of neurodivergent students with robust reporting to identify and work collaboratively with offices to provide career readiness skills, visit us here or email info@symplicity.com 

Disability Services, CSM, UniHub, CareerHub, Mental Health, ADHD, neurodivergent

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