The Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting Autistic People and/or People with a Learning Disability (2019) is an important Department of Health and Social Care policy. It details the skills and knowledge that anybody who supports autistic people or people with a learning disability should have. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Maudsley Learning on a project that aims to find out which skills from this framework are common and which are less common among the workforce. The results will inform decisions about future training needs for people who support autistic people and people with a learning disability.

What is the project about?

The Core Capabilities Framework describes the skills, knowledge and behaviours that people bring to their work. A key element of the Autism Act (2009) was that all frontline staff involved in supporting autistic people would be given guidance to establish the core capabilities they need to do their work well. This would help them understand autism, as well as physical and mental health challenges that autistic people may face, personalised support needs, independence and safeguarding.

The project aimed to investigate current autism training opportunities within England, and assess whether the core training content fit with Core Capability Framework recommendations. The project also aimed to identify any prominent gaps in workforce training and gain an understanding of how to increase awareness and use of the Core Capability Framework amongst training providers.

What have researchers been doing?


The team will take a broad approach to understand how the Core Capabilities Framework is and can be used. To better understand personal experiences and learn about any training programmes currently being used, they will conduct:

  • An online survey engaging autistic people, their loved ones and all public-facing professionals
  • Focus groups with autistic people, loved ones and public-facing staff
  • Individual interviews with autistic people, loved ones and public-facing staff
  • Review of current initiatives to create a directory for representative workforces.

How will the project help?

By learning about the current and potential routes used to engage with the Core Capabilities Framework, researchers can give more options to ensure that public-facing workers will benefit from the framework. If more people who work with the autistic community can actively engage in learning about, understanding and supporting autistic people, then services will be better tailored for individual needs.

How will Autistica support the project?

We will support the autism community to fully engage with the project by facilitating their involvement, as follows:

  • Designing data collection methods,
  • Conducting data collection,
  • Reviewing findings,
  • Drafting and commenting on final documents, and
  • Helping the research team to communicate their findings.