Below is a post by social entrepreneur Nish Parikh, the founder, technology architect and CEO of WebTeam Corporation, a developer of innovative solutions for students with special needs.
WebTeam Corporation and Autism Speaks partnered last year on TheSpectrumCareers.com, an online jobs portal for people with autism. This post is part of Autism Speaks' focus on employment during October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
About 50,000 young adults on the autism spectrum will be transitioning from school age into adulthood this year. They will part with the comfort and familiarity of the classroom and enter the workforce for the first time. Like most employable adults, they will face many challenges adjusting to their new roles and responsibilities. However, a little guidance from a career coach, along with access to professional services, may help these job seekers not only survive but also succeed at work.
When I was introduced to Autism Speaks several years ago, I was developing my ColorsKit project to deliver early intervention tools to the autism community. Since then it has become clear to me that in order to capitalize on the benefits of early screening and intervention through tools like ColorsKit, it is necessary to have a solution ready for individuals on the spectrum in their post-school years.
Thanks to the support of Autism Speaks, we have that solution today in the form of The Spectrum Careers. This portal is the result of my team at Rangam and Autism Speaks putting our heads together to work on a comprehensive career solution for the differently abled.
The Spectrum Careers is working out pretty well for job-seeking individuals with autism.
Recently one person with autism was hired by a large pharmaceutical company as a packaging technician after he uploaded his video resume on the portal.
Two individuals who signed up for The Spectrum Careers were appointed by a global media conglomerate for important quality control positions as part of their diversity expansion initiative.
This is just the type of boost that The Spectrum Careers needed to get rolling. A critical next step is to offer not only entry-level positions but also highly-skilled, professional jobs. As a matter of fact, our goal is to ensure that individuals with special abilities are placed at various levels across a wide range of industries.
Ever since I started working on The Spectrum Careers project, I’ve formed the belief of delivering innovation through empathy. For instance, one of the innovative features on TheSpectrumCareers portal is the ability upload video resumes and job descriptions. Employers need to understand workers on the spectrum with an open and empathetic mind. While many job skills that are unique to autism are extensively documented in HR literature, critical traits such as honesty, personal integrity and the ability to think rationally go unrecognized when making inclusive hiring decisions.
Corporations need to factor in all possible benefits of hiring people with autism in order to fully realize the positive impact it can have on the bottom line.
The approach that The Spectrum Careers has taken to put adults with autism to work is backed by a staffing model that produces outstanding results for America’s business sectors. While The Spectrum Careers is placing individuals in both permanent and temporary positions, an estimated number of 17,000 staffing companies operating from about 35,000 U.S. locations connect 14 million temporary mainstream workers to jobs annually, which maximizes access and opportunities for employment.
If people without autism can be hired on a contractual basis to work on important deliverables, then there’s no reason not to use the same model to hire somebody who has autism and is capable of performing at the same level as their mainstream colleagues.
I urge employers to join us in getting individuals on the spectrum back to work.