SAP has revealed a recruitment drive to employ people with autism as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists.
The German software giant said it held a number of pilot projects in India where development teams were found to be more productive and efficient when people with autism were hired as software testers.
SAP Human Resources director, Luisa Delgado, said the ability of autistic people to "think differently" and "spark innovation" will help the firm meet the next generation of IT challenges.
"By concentrating on the abilities that every talent brings to the table, we can redefine the way we manage diverse talents," she added.
SAP said it will be working with Specialisterne, a Denmark talent agency that helps people with autism find IT jobs, to find the right people for the programme.
Thorkil Sonne, Specialisterne founder, said SAP was the organisation's first multinational partner. "We are very excited by this opportunity to enable SAP global access to a huge pool of untapped talent and therefore, help strengthen SAP's position as a global leader in innovation," he said.
SAP is currently running an Ireland pilot of the programme that will fill five positions this year. The firm will expand the program globally, starting this year in the US, Canada and Germany.
SAP plans to hire 650 autistic people by 2020, the equivalent of one percent of its current workforce.
Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society's Centre for Autism, welcomed the new programme being run by SAP.
"It's vital that more organisations follow SAP and recognise that adults with autism can make excellent employees - and not just in technical roles. Many people with the condition thrive in a structured and well organised environment and have many strengths that can give employers a competitive edge, such as accuracy, good eye for detail, and reliability," said Povey.
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