As those following Xceptional may know, up to 80% of autistic adults are underemployed or unemployed. Thankfully in markets as diverse as South Korea, Israel, Canada and Belgium companies are dedicated to providing skilled employment for autistic people.
Last month I had the privilege of participating in the first global meeting for Neurowrx in London. Neurowrx is a global alliance of corporations, non-profits, and individuals working to create, foster, and inspire employment opportunities for autistic people in STEM industries. The group has the shared goal of creating 5,000 long-term meaningful jobs by 2022.
The global meeting kicked off in very British fashion by sharing a Sunday evening drink at a London pub. On meeting the group, what first struck me was the shared purpose, openness and a refreshing lack of ego.
It is challenging to summarise an amazing few days in paragraphs but let me offer a few key themes:
We are only scratching the surface of industries where autistic people can thrive.
I was surprised and delighted to hear of the work of AutiTalent in the Netherlands who focus on non IT roles such as digitising personal files within government and video surveillance for the Dutch Police. AutiTalent employ over 200 consultants and are growing at 30% per year.
In South Korea TESTWORKS specialise in AI providing data annotation services for Samsung, Stradvision and Microsoft. Data annotation requires a high degree of focus and attention to detail. Autistic consultants are up to 50% more accurate while performing 50% faster than neurotypical consultants.
Overcoming barriers of bias among employers exists in every market and industry.
It is easy to become discouraged by lengthy negotiations and project delays in hiring autistic people. At Xceptional we are often welcomed by senior business leaders but can find it challenging to translate this interest into jobs for autistic people.
Our experience here is not unique. auticon Canada overcome this challenge by providing an opportunity for customers who have benefitted from the skill, dedication and integrity of autistic individuals to speak directly with skeptical hiring managers.
Technology is being used to enhance the assessment, training and support.
One of the core principles of Neurowrx is members don’t compete, this has led to widespread sharing of information. Passwerk in Belgium have pioneered the use of digital activity based assessments. Passwerk embody the Neurowrx principle of sharing information and have generously provided assessments to organisations around the world. Technology is also being used in the area of employee wellbeing, in particular mental health, with the use of pulse checks.
Employing autistic individuals makes business sense.
In the highly competitive U.S. entertainment industry MindSpark have established a thriving software testing business by delivering real value for customers. Competing against offshore providers MindSpark have taken advantage of shrinking wage arbitrage and poor customer experience with outsourcing. The services provided by Neurowrx members are not charity and across each market and industry they are delivering real business value.
So that is a wrap for the first global meeting for Neurowrx. I returned to the Xceptional office with new friends, stories and hope for autistic individuals as they strive to find meaningful jobs.