Specialisterne Launches in Northern Ireland

Launching Specialisterne in Northen Ireland

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From left to right: Dame Stephanie Shirley, Shirley Foundation and Autism Speaks, Peter Brabazon, General Manager, Specialisterne Ireland, Sharon Didrichsen, Manager, Specialisterne Northern Ireland, Minister Stephen Farry, Department of Employment and Learning.

Specialisterne has set up operations in Belfast, Northern Ireland with the aim of helping 50 people with autism there secure professional jobs in the IT sector within the next five years.

“’We are very excited about the opportunities for Specialisterne to showcase how people with autism can excel in the work place given the right understanding and accommodation,” said Specialisterne Founder and Chairman of the Board Thorkil Sonne. “Northern Ireland has welcomed our mission with strong support from key stakeholders and we are looking forward to working with a number of different partners to begin making a difference in the community.”

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry supported the launch stating: “As Minister for Employment and Learning, I am committed to helping employers to create working environments that are inclusive and dynamic, reflecting the increasingly diverse society that exists in Northern Ireland today. This includes ensuring that people with disabilities and health conditions, such as those with autism, are provided with the opportunities to succeed in their chosen career.

“I would like to congratulate Specialisterne on their success since setting up in Dublin and more recently here in Belfast. I am aware that they have formed links with many local employers from the IT sector and are already working with a number of candidates with autism in an effort to help them achieve their employment goals,” said Minister Farry.

The five-year objective of Specialisterne Northern Ireland is to create a commercially viable business with employment for 50 individuals with high functioning ASD. Job and assignments matching the special abilities of persons with ASD are mainly expected to be created within the ICT (Internet, communications, telecom) and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) sectors.

All candidates identified as suitable for the Specialisterne initiative during the project will be enrolled in an assessment programme based on best practice experiences from Specialisterne operations in other countries. The programme is designed to ensure and enable translation and transfer of personal special abilities into high-value work for clients.

Specialisterne Northern Ireland, is based in the Skainos Centre in East Belfast, and has been supported by Invest NI through the Social Entrepreneurship Programme.