The 24-year-old founder of five successful motorsports businesses is calling on businesses to think differently when it comes to employment, to open the door to work for people with autism.
Matty Street from Rochdale is sharing his story in the hope that it will inspire employers to welcome talented people into the workplace, who may be struggling with traditional recruitment processes.
The Office of National Statistics recently released figures that showed that only 21% of people with autism are in employment*. Matty, who owns TeamKarting Indoor Kart Centre, and has integrated inclusive recruitment practises into his business – and is encouraging others to do the same.
Matty struggled through school with diagnoses of dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger’s. So after failing his GCSEs first time round his teachers changed tack and related his work to motorsport which helped Matty understand and retain information. Re-sitting the exams Matty passed them all
Matty went on to study motorsport engineering, then went on to secure a degree, whilst working at TeamKarting Indoor Race Track throughout. In 2017, at just 19, Matty raised investment and bought out TeamKarting. It is now the UK’s highest rated karting track and winning an award for being Autism Friendly. Matty is also a driver for all-disabled Team BRIT.
Matty has since launched TK-Xtra in 2019, an in-house kart race team that offers a full progression route from indoor karting to outdoor racing. Soon after, his Cadet Kart Championship was launched, which has built in popularity and is set to welcome 60 racers this year.
Having battled to keep the business alive during the coronavirus lockdowns, Matty and his business partner diversified with the launch of Xtra Treats selling sweet treats and deserts. Matty has also invested in the importing and re-sale of Italian X-karts, offering the brand to the UK for the very first time, along with a linked karting team.
Matty explains that many people with autism are likely to struggle at the very first stage of job applications, but no one solution suits all. He explains: “The autistic spectrum is so wide, that there’s no one set of behaviours to define everyone on it, and therefore no one way supports people with autism into work. Instead, it’s about raising awareness and being more creative when it comes to welcoming applications. For example, I’m extremely driven and can get obsessive over things, which has worked to my advantage. Motorsport changed my life and became my passion. I went from being a part time marshall at TeamKarting to owning it today, but I’ve never had to do a formal interview.
Other people on the spectrum can have severe anxiety in social situations, so would instantly struggle in an interview setting.. Matty honestly believes that you can find some incredible people without having to use traditional processes.. By hosting a recruitment event at the track, they get to know candidates by inviting them along for some karting, meet the staff and share some pizza. Matty has taken on three people with autism so far and they’ve all flourished. One has gone on to be a paramedic which Matty is really proud about. For Matty, it’s more about making businesses aware of these things, rather than making one change to suit all.