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Thứ Tư, 22 tháng 5, 2013

SAP seeks programmers with autism - Financial Times

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SAP, the German business software company, wants to tap into a new talent pool by hiring hundreds of people with autism to programme and test its ­products.

SAP announced on Tuesday that it hoped people with autism – a developmental condition that can impair a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others – would ultimately account for 1 per cent of its 64,000 strong workforce.

Some people with autism, which affects about 1 per cent of the general population, score very highly on intelligence tests and possess extraordinary ­powers of observation and ­concentration.

But according to the National Autistic Society, a UK charity, they can find it difficult to interpret facial expressions, body language and sarcasm. As a result, they often struggle to perform well in job interviews or get along with colleagues.

“We share a common belief that innovation comes from the edges,” said Luisa Delgado, an SAP director who added that the company valued the ability of many autistic people to “think differently and spark innovation”.

SAP is not alone in targeting autistic people as potential employees. Auticon, a Berlin-based consultancy, exclusively hires people with the condition as software testers. Four of its consultants were recently employed by Vodafone for a project in Düsseldorf.

“[People with autism] have strong attention to detail and an ability to identify mistakes. If they look at a program code they are able to see very quickly if there’s a mistake,” Auticon said. “Our people like IT and programming. They have an unbelievable focus and motivation.”

SAP is partnering with Specialisterne, a Danish social enterprise that headhunts autistic people for work on data entry, software programming and testing projects. It aims to help 1m people with autism find a job, with a focus on technology-oriented roles.

SAP has already run a successful pilot scheme in Bangalore, India, where it employed autistic people as software testers, and will expand the programme to all of its labs worldwide.

“I would like to see more companies follow SAP’s lead,” said Steen Thygesen, chief executive of the foundation that oversees Specialisterne. “There’s nothing preventing others from taking this approach.”

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