Software company SAP to recruit autistic workers

A German software company says it wants to offer jobs to hundreds of autistic people to take advantage of their high intelligence and attention to detail.

SAP executive Luisa Delgado said that the unique way an autistic person thinks could lead to new ideas or ways of working.

"Innovation comes from the edges," she said.

"Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st Century."

SAP hopes that 1% of its workforce of 65,000 will be people with autism by 2020.

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterised by social problems and physical behaviour. But many sufferers are also extremely intelligent and creative. Asperger's syndrome is a kind of autism and in total the disorder is thought to affect about 1% of the global population.

In the company's Bangalore office in India, six people with autism are already working as software testers for SAP Business Suite applications. An increase in productivity has already been recorded, prompting SAP to roll the scheme out in other countries.

A Danish group called Specialisterne, which helps autistic people find jobs within IT, is helping the recruitment drive. Many of the people who have been helped by Specialisterne have jobs as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists.

A pilot scheme in Ireland is due to launch, with the company completing the screening phase for five positions to be filled later this year. After that, SAP will expand the program across all of its offices worldwide, starting in the US., Canada and Germany in 2013.

Ms Delgado said: "By concentrating on the abilities that every talent brings to the table, we can redefine the way we manage diverse talents."

Copyright Press Association 2013