SAP wants to hire autistic people

Posted by Nick Farrell

The company which makes software that no one understands says it aims to train 650 workers with autism to become IT specialists by 2020.

According to the Manchester Guardian, SAP said that it will provide job coaches to act as mediators between autistic workers and their colleagues.

In a statement, the company said that it wanted to find workers that "think different", and will recruit hundreds of people with autism within the next few years.

The figure amounts to one percent of the corporation's multinational workforce.  It will match the proportion of the world's population that has the condition.

SAP said that it had already started the project in India and Ireland where a total of 11 people with autism are employed.

It now wants the programme to take on software testers, programmers and data management and workers will spread across Germany, Canada and the US this year.

Autism is a neural development disorder that often undermines a person’s ability to communicate and interact socially.  Their brains process information differently to most people and they can end up carrying out repetitive and restricted behaviour. 

While this is not considered helpful in other aspects of life, in the world of computers the tendencies they often display such as an obsession for detail and an ability to analyse long sets of data very accurately can translate into highly useful and marketable skills. That doesn't apply to journalists.

The move has been welcomed by Germany's largest organisation for people with autism, Autismus Deutschland, which said that it would be monitoring the situation carefully to see that the workers are not exploited.

Around 20 percent of people with milder forms of autism such as Asperger's Syndrome and high-functioning autism are in work.

SAP will provide job coaches who will act as mediators between the workers and their employers and colleagues and help with communication or the stresses of working under time pressure.

Certainly you need your brain rewired to understand this quote from Peter Graf, the executive VP of Sustainability Solutions at SAP: "Sustainability is about holistically managing economic, environmental and social risks and opportunities. IT can help organisations execute their sustainability strategies in a way that drives short- and long-term profitability. SAP and Technidata share this comprehensive view of sustainability. As a result, our customers enjoy more homogeneity of their IT infrastructure, lower cost of integration, and cutting edge sustainability processes combined with comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities."