Autistic adults often experience difficulty in finding work, but IT consultancy and social enterprise Auticon reports a rise in demand for their skills
Launched in London last year, Auticon is a social enterprise that exclusively helps adults with autism find work in IT. It offers support from ‘job coaches’, and has links with major firms across the country.
According to figures from the National Autistic Society, only 16 per cent of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment, despite 77 per cent of those who are unemployed wanting to work.
Auticon currently employs 15 full-time autistic IT consultants in the UK. But the company says demand for these skills is higher than ever, and so has launched a campaign to find more applicants.
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“We saw that so many talented individuals, who wanted long term employment and had so much to offer, were missing out,” said Auticon UK CEO Ray Coyle.
“We have had great responses from major blue chip clients, who really value the skills our consultants bring. So great, in fact, that we are now unable to meet demand. We are calling out for autistic adults, who have an interest in technology, to apply.”
The surge in demand – from companies ranging from startups; to major firms such as GlaxoSmithKline and Experian – is due to both a tech skills shortage in London, and the fact that companies are recognising the value of employing workers with autism, said Coyle.
The company acknowledges that autism-specific strengths are highly individual, but say they frequently include logical and analytical abilities, sustained concentration, conscientiousness, loyalty, an eye for detail, and technical expertise.
“Autistic adults often have extraordinary cognitive abilities, yet many find it difficult to secure or maintain mainstream employment. Auticon taps into this potential and produces a win-win-win situation for clients, autistic consultants, and society,” said Coyle.
Autistic adults often have extraordinary cognitive abilities, yet many find it difficult to secure or maintain mainstream employment
As well as lining up employment, Auticon arranges job coaches, who work with each consultant to ensure they feel comfortable in the workplace. Project managers offer technical support and tips on professional development. Prospective employers are also given advice on creating autism-friendly work environments.
Tom Cowley (pictured) has a degree in games design but, six years after finishing his studies, he still hadn’t broken into the industry. “After university I found myself stuck in the eternal trap of how to get a job in the industry without experience,” he told BBC News.
“A year passed, and then another year – I wondered if I just wasn’t good enough.”
He is now a consultant with Auticon and works in the 3D printing industry. Cowley says many of the traits that come with his autism make him more employable in the IT industry.
“People [with autism], despite having relatively little interaction with the world around them, still have a very active and concentrated inner world inside their head,” he said.
“The tendency and ability to block everything else out and just focus on the one thing is a big help; I can keep plodding forward without letting it wear me down as much as it would most people.”
The tendency and ability to block everything else out and just focus on the one thing is a big help
Auticon was founded in Berlin in 2011 as the first enterprise to exclusively employ adults with autism as IT consultants. It employs more than 90 consultants across the UK, Germany and France.
Images: Grey Corporate
Featured image: Tom Cowley (r) provides IT consultancy for Auticon clients
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