auticon, a technology employer of autistic IT consultants, has formed a partnership with Woolworths to run a 6-month pilot programme employing autistic technology consultants working on a quality assurance and software delivery project.
In Australia, around 1 in 100 people are autistic yet only 15-20% of autistic adults have some form of employment.
Many autistic people hold university degrees and have created breakthrough technologies because of their ability to think differently.
April 2 is internationally recognised as Autism Awareness Day. During World Autism Awareness Month this pilot programme aims to help people think to think differently about autism.
“We thank Woolworths for demonstrating their commitment to inclusive employment, and auticon look forward to delivering a successful project,” says auticon Australia managing director Amanda Turnill.
“auticon's IT consultants are accurate, proficient, diligent and truly gifted. Despite being highly qualified, people on the spectrum in Australia still struggle to hold down full-time work. We aim to change this and the programme with Woolworths is a wonderful start.
“auticon's mission is to improve the employment prospects of autistic people by providing high-quality career opportunities, shifting perceptions about autism and acting as a catalyst for companies to bring more neurodiversity to their teams.
auticon has a unique operating model where they employ a Job Coach to manage the integration of autistic professionals into the workplace.
This process involves embedding the Job Coach within the organisation and that enables companies like Woolworths to benefit from the unique cognitive abilities of autistic people.
The Job Coach also helps reduce the stress and anxiety experienced by many people with autism entering the workplace.
“As Australia's largest employer we know we have an important role to play in creating opportunities for prosperity for all Australians,” says Woolworths Group CIO John Hunt.
“If Australia is to address the STEM shortage, we need to embrace diversity in all its forms. Many autistic individuals are hugely talented in STEM fields, so this presents an opportunity for us.
“We are keen to explore ways in which we can work with companies like auticon to create an autism-friendly workplace and benefit from a larger pool of talented STEM skilled IT professionals.
“In this context, with auticon's help, we are aiming to provide a work environment that will support the empowerment of people on the spectrum. We look forward to working with the consultants and building rewarding and fulfilling opportunities with them. Woolworths are excited by the prospect of this engagement and actively encourage participation from people on the spectrum.
auticon opened their doors in Australia last November; this unique social enterprise employs 210 autistic consultants across the globe delivering some of the most challenging IT projects.
“I love working in an organisation that recognises and nourishes the peerless talents of neurodivergent IT workers. It supports us as individuals to deliver the unique value that too frequently remained locked inside us,” says auticon principal consultant Manuel Gomes.
“The auticon Job Coach model gives me confidence that my teams and I work in an environment where our strengths can shine, and that our clients understand the different ways to manage and interact with neurodivergent staff. The Job Coach's role as advisors and public educators is invaluable”.
The organisation recognises the unique cognitive capabilities of people with autism in the IT and technology field, including pattern recognition, innovative and lateral thinking, error detection, fraud prevention, logical analysis, sustained concentration, creativity and attention to detail.