BRIDGING – Breakthrough interview extended reality training towards reducing the autism employment gap.


National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Research for Social Care (RfSC) Ref. NIHR204260.

What is the problem?

In the UK, less than 3 in 10 autistic people work. In other countries, such as Sweden, this is 6 in 10. Autistic people have reported to us directly, and through research, that job interviews and the first few days of work are difficult. Face-to-face interviews in unfamiliar settings cause anxiety. The work environment itself includes situations, sounds, and objects that are upsetting. These things lead to poor interview performance and people finding jobs too stressful to continue.

What is the aim of the research?

We aim, in the long term, to increase employment among autistic people in the UK. We will make a set of ‘virtual reality scenes’ to help autistic people know what it is like to have job interviews and experience the first few days of work. This will help them to know what to expect, be less anxious and increase their chances of getting and keeping jobs.

How will this be achieved?

We will create virtual reality (VR) environments so that autistic people can practise job interviews and being at work, building confidence and finding strategies that work for them.

1. Review research studies and other work involving autistic people, to understand the main causes of anxiety and stress during interviews and early employment.

2. Work with autistic people and a VR company to create virtual environments of situations occurring during job interviews and the first few days of work, along with a training package for those helping autistic people into work.

3. Obtain feedback on these from a new group of people, whilst working out what we need for a bigger study to see if the VR environments improve employment in autistic people. We will then finalise the VR environments and training materials, ready for the bigger study.


Who is leading the research?

Dr Michael Loizou, University of Plymouth.

Further information:

For more information or to get involved in this project, please contact

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.