German software firm SAP says it wants to hire hundreds of people with autism to work as programmers and testers for its products.
In a statement Wednesday, the firm said it hopes the plan will boost the number of workers with autism to as much as one per cent of its 65,000 workforce by 2020.
Autism is a developmental disorder that can cause difficulties communicating in certain situations. It’s believed as much as one per cent of the world’s population has some sort of autism.
Read our backgrounder on life with autism
Although they face difficulties in certain social situations, people with autism often score very highly on intelligence tests and are detail-oriented — two skills that are very much useful in the technology industry.
SAP says it recently hired six people with autism to work in one of its offices in Bangalore, India.The company says it has seen the team’s productivity and cohesiveness improve in key areas ever since.
The Indian office recently developed a consumer iPad application called Bol to assist with the education of children with autism.
Autism hiring program to expand
SAP is already planning to implement a similar pilot program in Ireland, followed by more in the U.S. and Canada later this year.
“Innovation comes from the edges,” SAP executive Luisa Delgado said. “Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st Century.”