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German tech giant SAP recruits autistic engineers

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com
Regional headquarters for German software company SAP. (Via Facebook/SAPNorthAmerica)
Regional headquarters for German software company SAP. (Via Facebook/SAPNorthAmerica)

German business-management software maker SAP plans to recruit hundreds of people with autism to work as software testers, programmers, and in data management.

SAP is forming an alliance with Specialisterne, a foundation to promote employment for autistic people in technology industries. A pilot program included six software testers in India, and SAP is now hiring five autistic people in Ireland.

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SAP said it will expand the project to the U.S., Canada and Germany this year and that this is the foundation’s first global agreement with a company. By 2020, SAP says 1 percent of its global workforce of 65,000 employees would be people with autism.

"SAP sees a potential competitive advantage to leveraging the unique talents of people with autism, while also helping them to secure meaningful employment," the company said.

The company believes that "innovation comes from the edges," according to SAP executive Luisa Delgado. "Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st Century," she said.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can impair communication and social interaction and cause repetitive behaviors. Nonetheless, many autistic individuals are highly intelligent with an exceptional attention to detail.

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Autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger's syndrome, are believed to affect roughly 1 percent of the global population. Specialisterne, originally founded in Denmark, is owned by the Specialist People Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to find employment for autistic individuals.

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