by Amanda McKeon
SAP has launched an initiative that has the potential to change the lives of thousands of people across the globe. No, I’m not talking about the Skills for Africa program again — this time, SAP has its eye on people with autism.
There are approximately 48 million people in the world diagnosed with autism today and unfortunately, many schools and businesses are not equipped to give this large number of people the opportunities they deserve. Numbers vary greatly, but some reports state that the unemployment rate for people with autism may be as high as 66% or even 85%, compared to 9% of people without a disability!
Fortunately, not all companies see autism as a disability. In fact, SAP understands that people with this condition may have an advantage over others in the software industry as they generally have a unique focus and attention to detail that lends itself well to software testing, programming, and data quality assurance. SAP is partnering with Specialisterne, a Denmark-based company that works to employ individuals with autism as consultants in IT and other technical sectors, and will be the first company to bring this initiative to a global level. The pilot program that will run in India, Ireland, the US, Canada, and Germany will be launched later this year. By 2020, SAP expects that 1% of its employees around the world will have autism.
According to the autism advocacy organization Autism Speaks, “this move shows that SAP recognizes that approximately 1 percent of the world’s population is on the autism spectrum and should be equally represented in the workforce.” The organization hopes that companies around the world will follow SAP’s lead and see the true value in people with autism.