Autism in the Global Workforce

ICare4Autism will have the first day of its 2014 International Autism Conference dedicated to developing and promoting national and global Autism Workforce programs. Harley Lippman, founder and CEO of Genesis10, is our Workforce Chairman. The committee will help to oversee and promote our own initiatives, which you can read about here.

As part of our push for an inclusive workforce, we were glad to hear that just today, SAP, a world leader in enterprise software and software related services with locations in over 130 countries, announced that it would be collaborating with the University of Cambridge in a five year agreement to create a new internship program to promote its “Autism at Work” initiative. “Autism at Work” is the company’s own global initiative to employ people with autism. This announcement came after they recently employed its first group of people with autism, right here in two of their U.S offices.

The internship focuses on autistic students with skills and a strong interest in software and programming and gives placement to these students in one of five SAP locations, US, Indian, Canada, Ireland, or Germany. The goal is that they will move on to become SAP employees at the conclusion of their internship and become an important part of their company.

SAP will be working specifically with Professor Simon-Baron Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge as well as an Advisory Council Member of ICare4Autism. He will be responsible for the outlining and developing the specifics of the internship that will make the transition a smooth process for the new autistic interns.

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, says, “SAP is setting a terrific example, showing that a multinational IT company not only positively welcomes applicants with autism of Asperger Syndrome, but believes that there is a strong business case for employing them, because of their special talents.”

ICare4Autism is attempting to bring about more global initiatives like SAP’s internship that can be implemented on a national level. Our keynote speaker for Day 1, Randy Lewis, Former Walgreens Executive Vice President, will be talking about how Walgreens was the first company of their kind back in 2007 to employ a significant number of people with disabilities. More that 40% of their South Carolina distribution center have a physical or cognitive disability with similar numbers in their Connecticut center, opened in 2009. These employees work side by side with other team members all of whom have the same goals and equal pay. There are on-site training facilities that help those with special needs feel prepared for their job and daily tasks. “We’ve worked technology and creativity into every inch of this place, but it’s the people here who amaze you,” Randy Lewis explains.

These changes in the workforce globally and at home will ultimately open up doors for not only young adults, but also the younger generations that we care for here at Shema Kolainu, giving them a better chance at a brighter future.

For more information on the upcoming 2014 conference, click here

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