NxtGen Program Develops an Inclusive Workplace for Adults with Autism

Harnessing potential – that’s the motivation behind our new initiative to hire, train and retrain adults on the autism spectrum, just one of the ways Stanley Black & Decker is empowering 10 million makers and creators of all abilities by 2030.

In partnership with Autism Speaks, we’re establishing the NxtGen Program: a community college curriculum focused on skills that will prepare people with autism to pursue skilled-labor jobs in manufacturing.

NxtGen will build upon training programs developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to suit the learning needs of individuals with autism. The program will also coach faculty members to accommodate learners with autism, work with participants to increase self-advocacy, independence and interpersonal skills, and help participants develop a peer network.

“By some estimates, 80-90% of adults 18 or older with autism are either unemployed or underemployed globally. At the same time, new innovations could leave manufacturing with a gap of 3.5 million unfilled jobs in the next ten years,” said Joe Voelker, Stanley Black & Decker’s chief human resource officer. “When you combine those two staggering statistics, you see a tremendous need for our NxtGen program. For us, it’s all about preparing the workforce of tomorrow for success. Because when everyone feels included, everyone feels empowered.”

Stanley Black & Decker and Autism Speaks will expand the NxtGen Program over five years, providing talented young people with the opportunity to advance their careers and to bridge the gap between education and progression into the workforce. As part of the NxtGen platform, opportunities will be created to help people with autism to transition into STEAM professional certification training, and ultimately to assist them into manufacturing careers.

In addition to Maker Month, October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. We are proud to be working with Autism Speaks to lead this effort toward building a more diverse and inclusive workforce, supporting the makers, the fighters and the dreamers of all abilities to thrive in life – because together we are more.

Learn more about Maker Month and follow #MakerMonth on social media throughout October for more inspiring stories.