High School Students with Autism to Get Help Finding Their Career Path

A Liverpool entrepreneur has launched the ‘first of its kind’ workshop for special educational needs high school students who want to find their path in life or set up their own business.

Francesca Manca, founder of Underwing has created the ‘Shaping Your Future’ programme. These sessions are for students with autism or special educational needs who are about to leave high school but don’t  know whether  higher education is for them/  have a business idea and need help turning it into a money-making business or job. 

Francesca came up with the idea because as a SEN mum she experiences first-hand the lack of services and help in picking a higher education path or a career for people with special needs. She is also really passionate about educating the world about special needs and autism in particular, and a fierce ambassador of equal opportunities. 

The workshops are delivered in partnership with schools across Merseyside and can be run individually or in small groups and tailored to suit the needs of the students involved. The full run includes four 90-minute sessions plus monthly follow-up accountability calls/emails/chats for six months. 

The sessions show students how to identify their passions, skills, and take into consideration their needs when choosing their chosen job or career; how to write a business plan; how to market their business and how to overcome their unique needs.

Francesca Manca, who works with entrepreneurs with special needs says, “This idea has been a long time in the making and I’m so excited to finally launch it. 

“As a PDA mum, I experience first hand the immense lack of services people with special needs have to cope with once out of education. There is not enough information, not enough mentoring, no one to help give them direction or simply suggesting what to do, and how to find their ideal jobs or start a successful business. Courses for neurotypical people don’t work as they never take into consideration any behaviour or thought process ‘outside the box’.

“My mission in life is to help people with special needs to go from a career/job where they are stressed, angered, overwhelmed, into a job/career they can do with passion, purpose and excitement. I can help special needs professionals change their job/career into one that doesn’t involve coping with stress and burnout, and is, instead, fulfilling and passionate. I help my clients eliminate the stress and anger of working in the wrong environment, and achieve their dream business/job in 8 weeks. So I figured that I could bring this work one step forward, and actually help who could be a future stressed out client pick the right path from the beginning!

“At Underwing we have a lot of experience working with people with autism and special educational needs and are well-versed on how to make working as stress-free and seamless as possible.

“Each individual can have their own restrictions such as sensory overload, needing longer breaks after meetings, struggling to complete important projects or being overwhelmed by too many social requests. 

“If students don’t have a business idea yet, that’s ok too. We’ll work with them to understand their limitations, champion their strengths and look at their interests to develop a business idea and identify a career path that works best for them.” 

If you would like to introduce the ‘Shaping Your Future’ programme at your high school, please email fran@underwingliverpool.com or info@underwingliverpool.com or fill in the contact form on the website: https://underwingliverpool.com/contact/