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Specialisterne Scotland contract provides software testing jobs for people with autism

Jenny Williams

Specialisterne Scotland, an IT firm which was set up to help people suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has won its first contract.

The company has won a contract with Glasgow Third Sector Forum to provide software testing.

The Danish IT services firm, which aims to help people suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) into work, launched in Scotland in August 2010. The first 10 recruits have now completed six months' training to become full-time software test engineers.

The employees will now help test a new web portal that Specialisterne Scotland is designing for the Glasgow Third Sector Forum.

Employment opportunities limited

David Farrell-Shaw, manager of Specialisterne Scotland, said some of the 10 recruits had previously lost their jobs due to autism.

"Only 13% of adults with autism are in full-time employment despite having specialist skills which offer businesses [in fields such as] information technology, telecommunications and financial services, a competitive advantage," said Farrell-Shaw.

"People with autism can be extremely intelligent, but society as a whole doesn't recognise this. Some employers find it difficult to make the small adjustments people need to allow then to flourish in the workplace. At Specialisterne we incorporate a supportive, safe environment into daily working life," he added.

Skills for software testing

Specialisterne said it is currently in discussion with numerous IT firms about providing software testing services.

Gerry Higgins, chief executive of Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEiS), said: "Specialisterne Scotland is open for business and we are keen to talk to any firms which need software testing engineers, across a range of sectors including IT and financial services. We have the right people with the rights skills who excel in software testing.

"If a business appoints Specialisterne to do software testing it will not only meet its corporate social responsibilities but also get something of substance back - a high-quality service that it needs and that we can deliver competitively."

Thorkil Sonne set up the business in Denmark in 2004 after his son was diagnosed with autism. The organisation aims to provide software testing services to blue chip companies and utilise the characteristics associated with autism, including precision and repetition, needed for software testing roles.

Specialisterne Scotland hopes to employ 50 people with autism by 2015. Recruitment for the next phase of trainees will begin before the end of the year.


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