Social enterprise boosts autism awareness across Scotland
auticon, a global IT consultancy and social enterprise whose IT consultants are all autistic, has helped significantly boost employment prospects for autistic adults by rolling out workplace training in autism awareness to over 1,000 people across Scotland.
Thanks to funding from Scottish Government’s Increasing the Understanding of Autism Programme which is managed by Inspiring Scotland, auticon’s innovative training programme has successfully increased understanding of autism amongst 1176 employees in the workplace, spanning the public sector, finance, tech, recruitment and legal industries.
auticon’s project has enabled Scottish organisations to become autism accepting workforces by working directly with employers to review their existing policies and practises to encourage more applications from autistic individuals, as well as to create more neurodiverse-friendly work environments.
The training programme has boosted employment prospects amongst autistic talent, by also promoting the talents that autistic adults can bring to the workforce and enabling Scottish employers to become more accepting of difference and recognising the cognitive strengths that neurodivergent talent can bring.
Maria Hamilton, auticon’s International Training Lead, based in Scotland says, “Autistic adults often have strong cognitive abilities, such as logic, pattern recognition, precision, sustained concentration, and an ability to intuitively spot errors, yet many find it difficult to secure or maintain mainstream employment.
“Thanks to generous funding from Scottish Government, we have been able to use our many years of experience and understanding of autism in the workplace, to help major employers within the Scottish business community to understand the benefits of bringing neurodiverse talent into their teams, as well as setting them on the path to making their workplaces as inclusive as possible, so as to attract neurodivergent talent.”
Yorath Turner, Head of Digital Capability & Talent at The Scottish Government, adds: “We worked with auticon to deliver awareness training to over 70 people in our organisation and the feedback we’ve had has been excellent. We as a team are now able to advise other people across the business. We can provide advice on how to make recruitment more accessible for people with autism as well as helping recruiting managers to think about more inclusive approaches that benefit everyone. Receiving the train-the-trainer sessions from auticon increased our own understanding and our confidence to teach others.
“Following our work with auticon we have seen improvements throughout the recruitment and selection processes. These improvements are making it easier for everyone to apply to our roles which will help us to fill key roles in the organisation. We have put inclusion at the heart of our recruitment process and can now actively intervene to remove barriers, where we couldn’t before. We plan to take this work and expand it across our other processes as well as improving this further for all aspects of diversity and inclusion.
Helen Chambers, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Inspiring Scotland says: “Through the Increasing Understanding of Autism Programme, we are aiming to make Scotland a more accessible, inclusive and understanding place for autistic people to learn, work and live. auticon’s work with some of the largest employers in Scotland has been a significant contribution in addressing the lack of understanding of autism in Scotland and we are delighted that auticon will be continuing this crucial work.
Taimur Asif, Head of Advanced Product Development at Spirit AeroSystems adds: “Overall the training sessions delivered by auticon were well balanced, enlightening and thought provoking. They have challenged us to do things differently going forward.”
Edinburgh based auticon consultant, Chris Lever, concludes: “For me it has been life changing working with organisations who understand and accept autistic people. The last two years with auticon have been the longest consistent period of employment I have had since the mid 1990’s. For the organisations with open-mindedness and some simple accommodations, their teams and projects gain from the insights of someone who doesn’t just think outside the box, they don’t even accept the box exists.”
auticon was founded in Berlin in 2011 and now has 18 offices worldwide, including an office in Edinburgh which launched in 2019. The organisation has ambitious plans for growth in Scotland to ensure more talented autistic workers find meaningful employment.
For more information visit www.auticon.co.uk
auticon is a unique social enterprise which employs autistic adults as IT consultants. It provides an advisory service to clients to support them with the recruitment and onboarding of new candidates, as well as the retention of current employees who are on the autism spectrum. Each client and consultant are also uniquely provided with their own auticon job coach, on-hand to offer ongoing specialist support. auticon has been cited as one of Richard Branson’s top 3 companies he most admires.
About the Increasing Understanding of Autism Programme
The Increasing Understanding of Autism Programme is a direct response to the Scottish Government’s 2017 Engagement Exercise, which emphasised the need to raise understanding of autism amongst the non-autistic population. The programme, which is managed by Inspiring Scotland on behalf of Scottish Government consists of a marketing campaign; Different Minds. One Scotland, and funded charity projects. The programme is directed by autistic people’s lived experiences and the funded charities are partners in this programme, helping to influence the direction of the national marketing campaign and promote the campaign at a local level.