With the recent movement of encouraging STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers to females, as seen through GoldieBlox ads and Women Who Code, there is another group of individuals that STEM education appeals to. Employers are taking note of some people with autism and discovering they possess the skills necessary to succeed in STEM fields. In particular, tech companies are taking part in hiring initiatives keenly interested in potential employees with autism. This new pool of talent has been described as a win for all because of the multiple benefits involved. Although there’s still a long way to go for job employment for people with disabilities or people with wheelchair accessible vehicles, the STEM field looks optimistic to being inclusive and providing equal opportunities for those skilled for it.
Major Software Companies are Hiring
By 2018, the United States will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM related fields. At this rate, software companies like Microsoft and SAP are scrambling to fill job openings. On the same note, they’re attentive in seeking employment opportunities through individuals with autism. For jobs that require attention to detail and repetitive tasks, it’s been seen that their logical and analytical skills are adept for the software testing field. SAP realizes the potential for people with autism and has a goal to hire about 650 individuals to its total workforce. The company has said that the expanded talent pool has led to more innovation, team cohesion, greater productivity and better customer relations, making it a success for all. Not only does investing in employees with autism provide dignity and diversity, but it also means that there is a better quality in the work. Some of the software testers from SAP are ranked in the top 3 to 5 percent compared to their peers for job performance.
Hiring People with Autism
The interviewing process is geared toward candidates with finessed social skills, which people with autism may have trouble with. Rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach to hiring, a company is better off applying a hands-on technique in assessing the abilities of people with autism. For instance, SAP works with The Arc, an organization advocating equality for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and manages a 6-week hiring process. The first half focuses on team-building exercises and evaluating their project performance. For the remaining two weeks, project managers join the dynamic and help ease them into the workplace, figuring out expected practices.
A company benefits when they employ an individual with autism ten-fold: when their workforce is reflective of their consumers, there is a more positive outlook. As a whole, it is seen as more inclusive and recognized in valuing everyone’s cognitive strengths. The people with autism they’ve hired are not done so for a quota but because they are talented at what they do. Although not all people with autism may be skilled in a STEM career, that doesn’t mean their skills can’t be more geared for other industries. No matter what your strengths are, the rosy outlook on the STEM field for individuals with autism should serve as a reminder that there is a way to apply your strengths toward a career.
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