While some individuals on the autism spectrum have found success pursuing careers in technology, they are few and far between. Recent numbers put the employment rate for all those on the autism spectrum at only somewhere between 10 and 12 percent. And those numbers may include individuals who are underemployed.
One leading technology firm that has put resources behind creating employment opportunities that are a good fit for employees on the spectrum is SAP. Last year, its partnership with Specialisterne, which also works to place people with autism into appropriate tech jobs, received a good amount of coverage. The partnership hoped to match individuals with jobs in software testing, programming and quality assurance. While the number of individuals now employed with SAP sits at 30, both in the U.S. and abroad, according to Disability Scoop, the company is still committed to creating more employment opportunities to benefit both the firm and the new hires.
Now, a new SAP program, “Autism at Work,” is providing specific training for individuals with autism, with the aim of allowing them to use their abilities in rewarding work. "One of the reasons we're looking at people on the spectrum is they bring abilities we may not have," SAP's Jose Velasco, head of Autism at Work, said in a NBC Bay Area piece. The program has been launched in the Bay Area and will expand over the next few years.
SAP plans to hire more than 600 people with autism by 2020, which would equal 1 percent of its total, global workforce. The program includes training for managers, mentors and additional resources to help the trainees and job candidates succeed, says Al Jazeera America. By 2020, program executives say, the onboarding will be indistinguishable for any new SAP employee, whether they come from the Autism at Work program or not.