x-kart founder urges employers to think differently when it comes to recruitment
X-Kart founder, 24-year-old Matty Street, the 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. As part of Autism Awareness Week 2021, Matty 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 also owns TeamKarting indoor kart centre, has integrated inclusive recruitment practises into his business – and is encouraging others to do the same. Having struggled through school with diagnoses of dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger’s, Matty discovered karting when he was 12. When he first took his GCSEs, just before he began a racing career, he failed them all. When he re-took the exams, he passed everything, as his teachers began to relate his work to motorsport which helped him understand and retain information. He studied motorsport engineering then went on to secure a degree, working at TeamKarting indoor race track throughout. Matty raised investment to buy out the TeamKarting business in 2017 when he was just 19. It is now the UK’s highest rated karting track and has won an award for being Autism Friendly. Matty is also a driver for all-disabled Team BRIT.
He 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. Now, Matty has 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 to support 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 I’ve always used to my advantage. Motorsport changed my life and when it 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. For me, it’s more about making businesses aware of these things, rather than making one change to suit all.
“I honestly believe that you can find some incredible people without having to use traditional processes. At TeamKarting, if someone shows some effort when they’ve approached me about a job, I’m interested, even if that isn’t in the form of a formal CV. I then host a recruitment event at our track, invite people along for some karting and to meet the staff, share some pizza, and get to know them. I’ve taken on three people with autism so far and they’ve all flourished. One has gone on to be a paramedic and I’m really proud of that.”