auticon is celebrating being one of the pioneering firms in neurodiversity employment and their journey over the past 10 years, from the organisations humble beginnings in Germany to becoming a global business headquartered in eight countries.
The founder a software engineer and father to an autistic child Dirk Müller-Remus, realised that 85% of autistic people were unemployed despite being highly skilled and educated. In a time when the world was struggling to bridge the STEM skills gap Dirk saw an opportunity to encourage firms to be more inclusive to help solve the growing problem.
Since this time auticon has changed hundreds of lives across the globe. Their successful and proven business model utilising talented autistic IT professionals in challenging roles has solved some of the world most difficult problems. However, the opportunity is not to change hundreds of lives but millions of lives.
auticon Group CEO Kurt Schöffer spoke about the opportunity to grow into the future and what this means for autistic people and business the world over.
“According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, it’s estimated that one in every 54 children is autistic. Currently, 85% of autistic people are unemployed or under-employed, to reduce this number and provide more jobs for this workforce, companies will need to adapt to be more inclusive of autistic adults,” said Schöffer.
“Over the last 10 years, one of our key findings is that people on the spectrum just want meaningful work and to be able demonstrate the valuable contribution they can make. This sounds remarkably simple but with neurodiversity comes a different way of thinking that challenges the status quo and has the potential create misunderstandings.”
“This is really where our core business model comes in, we help companies to challenge the status quo and deliver innovation in IT with the help of some extremely talented autistic people. We do this by working with both the client and the consultant to prevent misunderstanding creating a prosperous workplace and opening the world up to a wider pool of STEM talent and opportunity.”
auticon Australia Lead Job Coach Jen Coles, has worked with numerous clients on their understanding of autism and the many strengths that auticon’s consultants bring to the companies they work with.
“We always say that autism is not a processing error, it is another operating system.”
“As a Job Coach, I help our consultants to understand and navigate the workplace, but I also work with our clients to give them an understanding of how best to connect with our consultants and through this process we create a low stress, highly productive environment that underpins our ability to innovate.”
“From the innovations I have seen our teams deliver it is not surprising to see that businesses are now starting to understand that diversity is an enabler of competitive advantage rather than a compliance exercise. Making diversity a must have rather than a must do which is really exciting.”
auticon Australia CEO & MD Bodo Mann spoke about opportunities in the local market and growth of the Australian business since they opened their doors just 2 years ago.
“In Australia businesses and governments are at an earlier stage in understanding the real benefits of diversity and inclusion than in more established markets in Europe and North America but the challenges are much the same. The STEM skills shortage in Australia is just as challenging as overseas, our reliance on technology is increasing and so the demand for innovative IT consulting will only continue to rise,” said Mann
“When we opened our doors in Sydney, we started with some great clients which we still work with today and our revenue has doubled in the last 12 months alone, as a result we are opening a Melbourne office early in the new year and have already seen interest from new clients in Victoria.”
“It’s been really exciting to become part of a fast-growing business like auticon but it’s rare to join a business that also has such an amazingly positive impact on peoples lives which is so rewarding.”
Meiko Giesemann an IT consultant at auticon spoke about her experience since joining the organisation.
“I wasn’t diagnosed with autism until my 30s. As a kid I had a lot of support from my family, but as I grew older and tried to be more independent, it was like things were in reverse for me. The simple for others was complex for me and vice versa,” said Meiko.
This reversal of intuition was alienating enough in social circles. In a business environment, it was terrifying. I could easily pick up complex processes, I couldn’t understand what made them so hard. Speaking up in a meeting and pointing out what was simple to me, was terrifying. I couldn’t tell if it would be rude or insulting, for most people this seemed effortless.
I don’t really need to worry about it anymore; my auticon Job Coach, Laura, listens and helps me translate what I’m saying for my teammates and they know I mean well but I don’t always choose the right words or time to say something. Work has now stopped being a source of anxiety, I can really enjoy doing what I love, figuring out solutions to the client’s problems.