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Trying to start a company to provide Autism-specific I.T. training, work experience and employment

(8 Posts)
jbean66 Wed 22-Jul-15 13:42:03

My son has Asperger's. When he left his Autism-specific special school at 18 he was unable to attend college, so I secured funding from our LA for an 'elective' home education programme so that I could employ an I.T. technician (who had worked at the special school) to help him gain trade certifications and work towards becoming a technician himself.

My son is now 20 and has completed his CompTIA A+ certification, is about to take the Network+ exam and we have a final year of funding ahead of us for him to do Security+ and Kalipen courses. The tutor, my son and I decided to start a company that can provide secure employment for my son in an Autism-friendly workplace. That original idea has evolved to wanting to offer the same opportunities to other young people with Autism. We are trying to set up a company that offers Autism-specific CompTIA A+ training, work experience and employment within the repair service side of the company. We want to build a kind of 'village' so, instead of being expected to adapt themselves to a mainstream 'neuro-typical' world (which not all can do), these youngsters can also have a real peer group and a safe and appropriate social life.

We believe that this sort of company, staffed by young people with Autism working to help young people with Autism, is essential (especially since only 15% of adults with Autism are in full-time paid employment) but cannot seem to move it forward as both the local authority and Jobcentre are less than enthusiastic about funding any trainees and as we are not a charity or CIC we are not eligible for pretty much all of the funding we have looked at.

We are just about to launch a CrowdFunding campaign as our Jobcentre says they have youngsters on their books who could be candidates but no funding and we need to at least rent an office in which to train them. If we dont have premises on our local high street, we wont attract customers and build the repair service side that we need so that we can employ our trainees. But we need funds to do that!

Has anyone else out there tried to do something similar and, if so, do you have any advice/suggestions?

pinkfrocks Sun 26-Jul-15 13:54:48

I'm puzzled as to why you expect public funding for what is a private business? I think what you are suggesting as a business is good, but you are in the same boat as private tuition companies, private teachers, and similar. They rent a lease on offices so you should do the same. Or look into renting venues like village halls, community centres etc on an hourly basis.
You can't expect the taxpayer to fund a private business venture, but you might be able to get a bank loan if you come up with a business plan.

antimatter Sun 26-Jul-15 14:15:31

I think your idea is great but IMHO you need to have income coming first before you ask for more money of banks or private investors.

Or change status and become a charity.

All private schools are charities and that should tell you about financial commitments education establishments face.

In order to train your son you needed 1 (nearly full-time I guess) person and you donating free time.

Now you are talking of perhaps 2 full-time posts. One would be for your son who hasn't worked on that field. The other is your trainer.
What's stopping you to start repair business without training aspect first and with no high-street premisses? You need that experience for your son anyway.
Bring to the table someone who coukd help you with raising awareness of this local initiative to social medua (local fb pages +streetlife), local papers etc.
Have you you looked at Free schools application process for Special schools?

pinkfrocks Sun 26-Jul-15 17:29:24

I'm not sure what your proposed business model is.
Are you saying that you want to train young people with autism to repair computers and then they can work for companies who need computer repairs?

We are trying to set up a company that offers Autism-specific CompTIA A+ training, work experience and employment within the repair service side of the company

So you would own a computer repair company and train autistic young people who can them be contracted out to other companies?.

Not sure I've fully understood.

If I've got it right, and this is the business model, why would a company employ someone with autism, rather than someone without?

pinkfrocks Sun 26-Jul-15 17:30:13

Or are you saying that the computers would be delivered into your premises for repair?

pinkfrocks Sun 26-Jul-15 17:32:44

If the above, then you just need to start your business, employ your son and (presumably) charge for the training of anyone else you train. The fact that you want to launch a business and employ people with special needs isn't justification for funding by the public.

Could you explain your business model and exactly what your plans are, along with any research you've done into the need and the desirability of such a thing?

There are places that train and employ those with special needs only but they tend to do more than just one thing in an entire area.

How much research have you done?

Computer training for those with ASD is good and there would be people interested in this. But there are many things to think of, including the actual spectrum of ASD. Are you planning repairs only? I think if you broadened the scope you would have more chance of success.

Could your son not work self employed doing repairs to start with while building up the need and interest?

Keep us all updated

I'd also advise getting a business mentor for this. Someone in a related field/ with experience or knowledge of this kind of thing. I don't think it's something you can just blindly go into.

Could you contact a good Start Ups company and seek some help and a suitable mentor that way? Maybe Virgin Startups may have someone who would be able to advise? Maybe contact some relevant charities too and see if they could provide any input that could help

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