Auticon makes waves by exclusively employing autistic IT consultants

14 February 2019 Consultancy.uk

International social enterprise Auticon has launched a campaign to create jobs for the autistic community in Scotland. Partnering with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Auticon plans to expand into Scotland, starting with the hiring of three full-time IT consultants, all of whom will be on the spectrum.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. With understanding of the condition constantly evolving, it is now known to be a spectrum, and while all autistic people share certain difficulties, it ultimately will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. Importantly, people on the autism spectrum do learn and develop, meaning that with the right support every autistic individual can live a fulfilling life of their own choosing.

Sadly, however, following a decade of spending cuts on public services, health care provision, and academic research, that level of support is lacking in British society. At present, according to the National Autistic Society, only 15% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time employment – while 79% of that same demographic out of employment want to work. At the same time, 43% of those who have worked have left or lost a job as a result of being on the spectrum. Despite being highly intelligent and qualified, many find it difficult to access or maintain mainstream careers.

Auticon makes waves by exclusively employing autistic IT consultants

Hoping to address this persistent problem, Auticon is a B2B social enterprise founded by Dirk Müller-Remus in 2011 with investment from the London- and Munich-based Ananda Social Venture Fund. The firm has its roots in the diagnosis of Müller-Remus’ son with Asperger’s. Müller-Remus was dismayed by the employment prospects on offer to autistic people, and opted to build a company which created long-term sustainable jobs for adults on the autism spectrum.

Since then, the firm has enjoyed significant growth and success in the German market, and quickly expanded into the UK in early 2016 with an office in London, appointing Ray Coyle as its UK CEO. Auticon UK operates based on the model of classic IT consultancies – with the unique feature that all of Auticon’s tech experts are on the autism spectrum. 90% of autistic Auticon employees were unemployed before joining Auticon, while half of those were unemployed for more than 5 years. British-based clients include legal giant Linklaters, Big Four auditing and advisory firm KPMG, Experian and GlaxoSmithKline.

The firm now employs 150 IT consultants on the autism spectrum in the UK, US, Germany, Italy and France, and following its successful introduction to the English market, Auticon has now set its sights on Northern expansion. The firm will employ three full-time IT consultants from the autistic community in Scotland, following Auticon’s signing of a new partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland. The successful candidates will work on IT projects at RBS headquarters.

Commenting on the expansion, Auticon UK CEO Ray Coyle told the BBC that unemployment among autistic adults was "a major issue" in Scotland. He added the firm’s goal is to “offer sustainable, long-term employment to as many autistic individuals in Scotland as possible, and we are inviting any candidates with a background in tech to get in touch."

Also speaking to the BBC, Auticon consultant Thomas Cowley, who recently finished a project for a London-based 3D printing company, said working for the enterprise felt "refreshingly normal." The consultant, who holds a degree in computer games design from Staffordshire University, also said the firm helps to make him “feel valued,” before concluding that "the biggest difference [at Auticon] is the amount of support I get, and that is a big help.”

Related: Fewer than half of organisations deal with employee mental health effectively.

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