There is a shortage of more than 600,000 software developers in the EU, according to a DESI Report published by the European Commission. In Poland alone, the staff shortage is estimated at approx. 50,000 IT workers. Annually, no more than 12-14,000 students complete IT-related majors in Poland. The shortage will continue to grow. So, where to look for employees with the right predispositions?
People on the autism spectrum in the IT industry?
Technology has long surpassed the capabilities of the human mind in many fields. In recent years advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence have been so great that we have already automated many simple tasks. However, this does not mean that machines have possessed the ability to think abstractly or have discovered the secrets of creativity. Computers are capable of performing repetitive tasks quickly and accurately. Humans, on the other hand, are capable of interpreting stimuli, thinking visually, and solving problems they have never encountered before.
People on the autism spectrum combine these two seemingly distant worlds, which is appreciated by a growing number of employers around the world. One of the most interesting examples of the use of these unique traits is their employment in analyzing satellite intelligence imagery in the Israeli army. The 9900 unit employs individuals who, according to their superiors, have “superpowers” – they can analyze many seemingly similar images and pick up very small differences that provide important intelligence. The success of Unit 9900 has opened the door to many Israelis being diagnosed with autism – as of the end of 2021, the unit had 70 people on the autism spectrum, while the entire Israeli army had 200 such employees. By the end of 2022, there are expected to be as many as 500 of them. People are to be hired not only to analyze satellite imagery, but also in a field for which the Israeli army is world-famous – cyber security. Israel is not the only country that recognizes the potential of employees on the autism spectrum – there are also companies in Poland that help them fulfill their potential in the job market.
Autistic people: different needs, different benefits when it comes to employment
Autism is a spectrum that manifests itself in varying degrees. This means that people with this disorder can be high-functioning in society, but can also manifest major problems with verbal communication or establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships.
The Israeli army not only took advantage of the unusual personality traits of autistic people, but, more importantly, recognized their needs and adapted the workplace to them. This is because the training process for people on the autism spectrum is different from standard training. In addition to army representatives, specially trained therapists take part. They help autistic candidates adapt to exposure to new stressors, including the responsibility of the job itself or even taking the bus from home to the military base.
Many employers fail to recognize the special needs of people on the autism spectrum in the workplace, leading to stress and failure to use their abilities properly. The Israeli army’s training and therapy program lasts six months, after which candidates decide for themselves whether they are ready to serve.
The private sector notices people on the autism spectrum
The Middle Eastern military seems to be gaining an advantage by recognizing new fields of expertise for people on the autism spectrum. Meticulousness, the ability to perform repetitive, focus-demanding tasks, and picking up on the slightest differences or similarities are a set of traits that also work well in cyber security and other areas of the IT industry. This is also being noticed by private sector employers, who are increasingly willing to hire specialists on the autism spectrum for software testing and other tasks. Such employees, like their counterparts in the Israeli army, require training under the guidance of experienced specialists.
This is what the company asperIT.com, which has recognized the potential of people on the autism spectrum and employs them in its team to perform work in the area of software testing, is doing in the Polish labor market. The company’s employees are comprehensively trained under the guidance of specialists with experience in working with autistic people, and the employer knows exactly what the needs and required adjustments are for each employee. Thanks to its extraordinary potential, asperIT.com’s testing team is able to meticulously test information systems for the presence of errors in the implementation of functionality, compliance with functional or legal requirements, and perform other activities requiring special attention.
Companies using the services of testers on the autism spectrum recognize the benefits of such cooperation, noting above all the meticulousness, depth, and accuracy of the tests performed. You can read more about commercial cooperation with asperIT.com testers in the case study from Woonity.com available on our blog.
Do you want to see how to collaborate with people on the autism spectrum, but you don’t know how to get started? We can test your website or software. We can also help you customize your working conditions to meet the needs of people on the spectrum. We already know that it’s worth it to support neuro-atypical gifted people.