Microsoft recently announced it is starting a pilot program – working alongside specialized employment agency, Specialisterne – that is focused on hiring people with autism. The company hopes to utilize and nurture the unique skills that some on the autism spectrum possess that are particularly aligned with positions at Microsoft.
Mary Ellen Smith, corporate VP of worldwide operations who has a teen son on the spectrum, said, “People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft, each individual is different, some have amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code.”
Microsoft is not alone—other companies are also recognizing specialized talents and creating opportunities for people with autism, such as SAP and Freddie Mac. These efforts are extremely important considering only a very small percentage of those on the spectrum are employed – leaving the vast majority unemployed. And the unemployment rate will continue to rise as autism rates increase.
So Microsoft is taking a step in the right direction, and we hope more companies will follow suit.
Read more of Ms. Smith’s post on Microsoft’s blog.
Lynsey, Community Manager
As we’ve discussed here before, there is a growing amount of support and programs for the autism community, mainly for those that are school-aged, which is a wonderful thing. Expanding awareness is having a great impact. However, what we’re seeing is that as our school-aged kids grow up and become adults, there is almost a complete drop-off of funding/programs/schooling/etc. available to them.
This is now starting to change, again, thanks to awareness. Many of those touched by autism have a lot to offer, particularly in terms of a job. The problem sometimes, though, is that first step of securing a job, due to difficulties with social and/or communication skills. Hoping to help secure more jobs for people with autism by tapping into strengths, there seems to be an emerging trend of the tech industry seeking out those with autism.
One recent example is SAP, a global tech company, who announced a plan to seek out people with autism and hire them as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists. As noted in this article, they partnered with Specialisterne, a global job placement agency for those with autism, and said they may hire hundreds worldwide.
Some other interesting job opportunities/agencies worth noting:
- ASTEP (Asperger Syndrome Training & Employment Partnership) – this is an agency that creates and supports programs that promote long-term employment for people with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism.
- Aspiritech – a Chicago-based software testing service that only hires people with autism.
- nonPareil Institute – a Texas-based program that is dedicated to providing technical training, employment and housing to those with autism.
We’ll keep sharing additional career programs/ opportunities here because this is an important and much-needed focus for the autism community.
Lynsey, Community Manager