A Germany-headquartered IT consultancy which exclusively hires IT staff with autism has launched in the UK, searching for channel partners to link with.
Auticon is a social enterprise which launched in Berlin in 2011 after its founder was disappointed with the work options available to his autistic son. Since then, the firm has grown considerably and hires dozens of autistic IT consultants in Germany. The company's profits have gone on to fund additional offices in Paris and London.
The new base in the capital is currently home to just a handful of staff, but more are being trained, and relocated from Berlin, at the moment. Auticon has hired former channel man Ray Coyle as part of the London push. Between 1991 and the early 2000s, Coyle worked at channel firms including Computer 2000 (now Tech Data), UbiQ and Software Premiums before moving on to a legal career.
Auticon works with end users and specialises in four main areas: software testing; analytics; transformation and migration; and compliance.
Coyle told CRN that autistic people have exceptional talents that are often overlooked when they apply for jobs.
"Lots of people with autism have amazing problem-solving and pattern-spotting skills and can perform lots of tasks much better than neurotypicals (people without autism) can," he said. "The problem is that the workplace is not built with people on the autism spectrum in mind."
He said that autistic people can often struggle in traditional job application and interview processes, meaning gaining employment can be harder. And once they do get into work, many find certain aspects of the job difficult. With this in mind, Auticon aims to address these issues, with in-house coaches and support staff hired purely for this purpose.
"We interview everybody who applies and we disregard previous work history because people with autism can have a sporadic and varied CV, so we don't judge them on that basis, or their education history. We don't judge them on their interview performance either because it won't reflect their abilities. We spend a lot of time assessing people and giving them tests within an environment in which they can perform. It's then that we unlock their talents."
Coyle said the IT industry has a good track record in recruiting people with autism.
"Lots of big IT companies - Microsoft, for example - have acknowledged that many of the skills they are seeking are more prevalent in autistic people and they've gone out of their way to seek people on the autistic spectrum. The unique skills lots of people with autism have are particularly useful for people in IT, so people on the spectrum drift towards IT. It's not perfect and there's a lot of work to be done. But the IT industry should not be beating itself up."
He added that although Auticon consults with end users on individual projects, there is scope for it to tie up with the channel.
"From the channel perspective, it would be really interesting for us to tap into the VARs and systems integrators because I think there are a lot of businesses within the channel which are providing services alongside the hardware and software they provide," he said. "It would be really interesting to offer Auticon services within their portfolio as value-added resellers and systems integrators."
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