Colman Collins, Managing Director of Collins McNicholas, recently attended the CIPD Western event on Recruiting People with Asperger Syndrome and Autism on 10th April 2014.
Last Thursday, I attended the final event in the CIPD Western Region calendar for 2013/2014. The event comprised two presentations, one by Peter Brabazon General Manager Specialisterne Ireland on its plan to place people with Asperger Syndrome with employers in the West of Ireland and the second by Kristan Dornan SAP Lead Autism at Work Programme on their experience of recruiting three people with Asperger’s into their head office in City West, Dublin.
Asperger Syndrome, for those not familiar with it, was diagnosed by Hans Asperger in the 1940’s. It is at the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. Individuals with Asperger’s typically are very bright, hardworking and very honest but often do not have strong interpersonal skills. They like routine, dislike surprises and can struggle to pick up normal social cues. However to get a truer reflection of people with Asperger’s it is important to focus on their many strengths which would be attractive to most employers and would include the following:
- Remarkable concentration skills
- Exceptional level of attention to detail
- High levels of stamina and persistence
- Particularly strong work ethic
- Exceptional levels of honesty and integrity
Up to now, people with Asperger Syndrome have often struggled to get work because they often make poor interviewees but as a result of the efforts of Specialisterne and the trailblazing global initiative of SAP more and more employers are seeing the strengths listed above which significantly outweigh any difficulties in the areas of social skills.
It was fascinating to hear Kristan outline SAP’s experiences of the programme to date which have been exceptionally positive. SAP is committed to having 1% of their workforce made up of employees with Asperger Syndrome or Autism. Their reason for committing to this is not just driven by a strong CSR ethos but rather because they see employees with Asperger’s helping the company differentiate itself from their competitors through the consistent implementation of the qualities listed above.
Peter Brabazon listed out the types of position that might suit a person with Asperger’s syndrome. These would include but not be limited the following: Software Engineer, Software Tester, Validation Engineer, QC roles, etc. In the first instance, Peter explained that Specialisterne hopes to place at least one person with Asperger’s with each of the major employers in Galway. To that effect, he has had several very promising initial meetings with several companies and is hopeful that many of these will agree to employ at least one person with Asperger’s in the first instance.
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