There is a man on a mission to create 1,000,000 jobs internationally and bring his business model to the world. People who want to work for Thorkil Sonne’s Denmark based company Specialisterne however have to meet a very special prerequisite. They must have a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) including Asperger’s Syndrome or other invisible disabilities like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
In 2004 Sonne left his job, mortgaged his house and founded the software testing company named for what he believes all of his employees are… specialists. After his youngest son was diagnosed with Autism and Sonne learned more about the disorder he realized the very things that set people with ASD apart would allow them to not only compete but excel in the competitive job market especially in IT fields.
Sonne has said: “This is not about offering cheap labour or some kind of occupational therapy. We charge market rates, our consultants receive a market salary and that is because they simply do a better job. If you have a piece of software that needs repeated testing, a student being paid to do in Britain or India is going to get bored and lose concentration at the fifth or sixth attempt.”
Focus, repetition and attention to detail are all required skills for software testers as well as common traits associated with ASD. Sonne’s business plan hires and trains “specialists” and then integrates them into companies that can benefit from their skill set. Though he founded the Specialist People Foundation, his business is not a charity. Employees at Specialisterne must turn a profit or face termination. Most employees feel they are good at what they do and are happy to be in an environment that surrounds them with others like themselves.
Aiming to change the box in which businesses currently operate, Sonne showsthem what these very gifted individuals can do when given the opportunity. When working with specialists clients are instructed that specialists need to be approached directly. They need to be told exactly what you mean. In a lot of cases clients reported by dealing with all of their employees like that helped change the workplace for the better.
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By Heather Fairchild - Heather is a writer and blogger for Nexxt. She researches and writes about job search tactics, training, and topics.