Beth Pinsker at Reuters:
EY is among a handful of major companies recruiting and hiring individuals with autism spectrum disorders and supporting them at the office. These jobs tend to focus on specific technical skills that can suit individuals on the spectrum who are challenged by social interactions.
The numbers are small so far - Microsoft has about dozens involved in its program, while Deloitte just hired eight into its inaugural round. Dell started with three hires last summer and is doubling this year.
The hiring need, on the other hand, is exponential. Some 1.1 million computing-related jobs are expected by 2024, but U.S. graduation rates are not nearly keeping pace, says Lou Candiello, head of military and disability recruiting programs at Dell. “We need to think different about attracting talent,” Candiello said.
With an estimated global population of 70 million on the autism spectrum - 80 percent of whom are unemployed or severely underemployed - the neurodiverse community is a huge pool to tap.
In aggregate, programs for autistic workers are helping about 200 people a year, while thousands more graduate high school and head “straight to their couches,” said Tara Cunningham, chief executive of Specialisterne USA, a nonprofit organization that helped launch the Autism @ Work network with Microsoft, EY, JPMorgan Chase and SAP. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands more graduate and never enter the workforce.Jared Lindzon at Fast Company:
Ultra Testing [is] a New York-based software testing and quality assurance startup that employs over 60 workers remotely across 20 states, 75% of whom are on the autism spectrum. Not only was the company open to hiring neurodiverse employees, but it actively sought them out.
“We’re going up against global IT firms and performing significantly better,” says Ultra Testing’s cofounder and CEO Rajesh Anandan, citing contracts won away from IBM and Capgemini. “We’re staffing these teams with fantastically capable talent who just haven’t had a fair shot before.”
Anandan founded Ultra Testing alongside his former M.I.T. roommate Art Shectman after discovering research on the overlooked strengths common among autistic individuals. Anandan’s wife, who worked with autistic children at a community mental health clinic in Oakland, had also pointed out how much energy is spent trying to improve the skills that are lacking rather than nurturing the children’s often remarkable natural talents.
“Individuals on the autism spectrum are more likely to have strengths around pattern recognition, logical reasoning ability, enhanced focus, and so on,” says Anandan. ...
Despite these strengths, however, only 35% of 18-year-olds with autism attend college, and only 15% of those who graduate find employment. As a result, nearly 80% of young adults with autism work part-time, earning an average salary of $9.11 per hour, according to Integrate Autism Employment Advisors, a nonprofit that helps those on the autism spectrum find employment.