Frequently Asked Questions
As a business, auticon operates on the free market. Unlike a charity, a limited liability company is able to make profit. Economic return, however, isn’t an end in itself for us but rather an essential basis for investments, which in turn ensure the sustainability of the employment that we offer. By being able to access private sector capital, auticon warrants its long-term growth and thus creates secure and sustainable employment for people on the Autism spectrum.
We wanted to create an enterprise that deals with Autism confidently and realises the potential that people on the spectrum bring to the labour market. Our goal is to shift public perceptions of autism towards what people with autism can do well rather than what they find difficult. We are convinced that our employees are at least as skilled as non-autistic staff – and in some areas even surpass ‘neurotypicals’.
That, however, also implies that we don’t get any special treatment and are exposed to competition, just like any other business. A charity built on donations and subsidies simply wouldn’t be able to sustain itself on the free market. Our clients expect professional services – our consultants secure employment!
auticon currently employs approximately 10% of everyone who applies as IT consultant. Even though a degree or formal training isn’t essential, successful applicants are required to have relevant technical expertise, a willingness to learn, as well as an interest and enthusiasm to work as an IT consultant.
We realise that the soaring unemployment rates of people on the Autism spectrum are a most pressing societal issue and we are well aware that we can only play a small part in solving it – we won’t be able to employ everyone who applies. However: we do think it’s better to tackle the issue in small steps rather than to merely talk about it.
In the future we’re aiming to tap into further business segments (other than ICT) in order to create employment opportunities for even more jobseekers on the Autism spectrum.
Once the recruitment process has been completed successfully and an initial project placement has been secured, applicants are offered an employment contract as an auticon IT consultant. The contracts and salaries we offer are based on industry standards and depend on each applicant’s respective experience and expertise.
Most auticon consultants work 30 or 40 hours per week, although this is always based on the consultant’s individual request.
Visit http://en.auticon.ca/career/ for further information on our current vacancies and on our recruitment process.
Our consultants are appointed to client projects that are carefully matched to the consultant’s interest and expertise. The large majority of our services are offered via service contracts. Each project is individually coordinated with consultants, management and job coaches. Our consultants mostly work on site within the respective client department.
- Our consultants are all auticonsult staff. We’re not an employment agency and do not refer our employees on to other potential employers.
- We aim for our consultants to work on site within the client team. We believe that rather than having our consultants work from home or our offices only, heterogeneous teams represent genuine inclusion.
- Before the start of each project, a job coach assesses the client’s corporate culture and workplace settings in order to inform and prepare the consultant. Job coaches also brief the client in terms of autism and any specific characteristics their new colleague might have.
- The client nominates one continuous contact person for our consultant on site. The job coaches remain in the background but are available at any point to consultants as well as clients.
auticon’s business model is based on the idea that heterogeneous teams (autistic/non-autistic) not only represent genuine inclusion in the workplace, but also bear significant additional benefits in terms of productivity and quality of output. The positive feedback we receive from consultants as well as clients demonstrates how well this approach works.
Yes. All our consultants are auticon staff and so are our job coaches. We’re not an employment agency and do not refer our employees on to other potential employers. We do, however, offer the services of our consultants to external clients on a project basis.
auticon employs specially trained job coaches, offering individually tailored support to consultants and acting as a ‘safety net‘ in the background. Job coaches facilitate the communication between consultants and clients and become active whenever either party needs help or advice. Depending on each consultant’s individual needs, job coaches may also facilitate workplace adjustments. Our approach embraces the notion of self-empowerment, which is why our job coaches provide as much assistance as needed but always as little as possible.
The auticon job coaches come from all walks of life – many are psychologists or occupational therapists. Their personality, however, is more important than their degree. Next to having a calm aura and a grounded personality, job coaches must be able to communicate clearly and to the point.
auticon currently employs more than 250 members of staff alltogether (in the U.K., U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Canada). More than 170 of those have an Autism spectrum diagnosis (July 2019). Some auticon employees have multiple disabilities, and some employees who aren’t autistic have other neurodiversity spectrum diagnoses, such as dyslexia or ADHD.
All auticon IT consultants have an autism spectrum diagnosis and so do some members of the administrative team.
auticon’s impact can best be described as a win-win-win situation:
- Autistic jobseekers are offered qualified, autism-friendly employment that focusses on their individual skills and talent. A fair salary promotes financial independence and the recognition our consultants receive for their successful project placements often entails a marked increase in confidence and self-esteem, altogether raising their quality of life.
- Society also profits from the auticon model as long-term unemployed persons and benefits receivers become tax payers (approx. three quarters of our consultants received benefits before working at auticonsult). The occupational success our consultants experience often reduces their need for costly psychological and psychiatric services. Last but not least, auticonsult offers a successful role model for genuine inclusion within vocational contexts.
- Our clients receive services of superior quality and witness how ‘heterogenised’ teams visibly increase their productivity. We’re pleased that clients’ feed back to us describes how communication within their departments significantly improves upon the assignment of auticon consultants. Communication becomes increasingly clear and straightforward.
All our financial means originate from our day-to-day operations, i.e. project placements (turnover). Successful projects are essential in order to keep the business and its jobs sustainable.
61% of our autistic employees were unemployed before working at auticon. 23% were employed and 16% were in education, training, or receiving early retirement pensions.
All our consultants are on the Autism spectrum, without exception. An Autism spectrum diagnosis is essential to work as an auticon consultant. Positions of the administrative team and job coach vacancies are open to autistic as well as non-autistic applicants.
Do I need an Autism spectrum diagnosis?
- Applicants who wish to become an auticon IT consultant do need an Autism spectrum diagnosis – we can only employ consultants who have a valid diagnosis. Our entire business model is centered around the cognitive strengths that are associated with ‘high functioning Autism’. You are however welcome to apply for a consultant position if you are currently in the process of getting a diagnosis. Please note that we can only employ consultants who do receive a diagnosis at the end of that process.
- All further (non-consultant) vacancies are open to applicants with or without an Autism spectrum diagnosis.
Do I need prior IT knowledge to become an auticon consultant? Do I need a formal degree, training, or education?
- We realise that many autistic persons have unconventional career or education histories, which is why we focus on the actual skills of our applicants rather than their CV. Formal IT training or a degree is not essential. We do, however, expect a certain degree of IT expertise, the willingness to learn new skills and ideally a special interest in an IT-related area from our applicants. Successful applicants will need to demonstrate their technical aptitude over the course of the application process.
Unfortunately we are not able to offer any of these options at this point in time. We can currently only offer permanent, full time roles (at least 32 hours per week). Please refer to our careers page for further information.