Ireland welcomes Specialisterne

New initiative to create unique Jobs in Irish IT Sector for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders

DUBLIN, IRELAND (13 December, 2012) at SAP Ireland, Citywest, Dublin 24: Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation), the Danish non-profit organisation leading a global movement to create one million jobs for people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), today officially launched Specialisterne (The Specialists) in Ireland with the intention to create numerous new jobs across the country over the next 5 years. The new roles will help individuals with ASD leverage their unique abilities in real-life work settings, and to find value adding roles on market terms, particularly in the IT sector.

Founded in 2004, Specialisterne has developed a unique approach to identify and develop the potential in high-functioning people with ASD, and establish business environments in which they can work comfortably. With a strong focus on the IT sector, Specialisterne consultants bring distinct skills in pattern recognition, focus, and passion for detail, to outperform the market in areas such as software testing, data conversion, and others.

Speaking at the launch, Specialisterne Founder Thorkil Sonne said: “We are very excited about the opportunities for Specialisterne Ireland to showcase how high functioning people with autism can excel in the work place given the right understanding and accommodation. Ireland has welcomed our mission with strong support from key stakeholders and we are looking forward to working with a number of different partners from our base at SAP to begin making a difference for the Irish autism community.

See feature broadcast on December 13th, 2012 on Irish RTE 1 Television.
There are currently over 4,500 unfilled IT jobs in Ireland and many IT companies are frustrated that they cannot find suitable individuals to fill these posts.  Specialisterne Ireland will provide a unique access point for companies to interface with ASD individuals, that can help them with their IT skills shortages and ongoing projects.  There are many Irish ASD young adults and individuals capable of taking up these positions if given assessment, and support from Specialisterne.

Specialisterne Ireland’s offices will be based in the new offices of SAP in Citywest, through a partnership with SAP Ireland. The partnership agreement also enables several training and assessment programmes to begin next year. Specialisterne are also working with Accenture and Microsoft on developing projects and placements for consultants during 2013. Elsewhere in the world, companies like Danish telecoms firm TDC, Nokia, Deloitte, CSC, Microsoft, Cisco and many others have utilized the unique competences of ‘The Specialists.’

Managing Director of SAP Ireland, Liam Ryan, commented: “I am very happy that SAP Ireland and its staff will have the opportunity to work with the Specialisterne team here in Citywest, to formulate and identify specific IT and other SAP projects suited to ASD consultants. The Specialisterne model for identifying and leveraging unique skills should also be of great interest to other IT companies and businesses in Ireland.” 

Luisa Deplazes Delgado, Global Executive Board Member of SAP added: “We are looking forward to working with Specialisterne in Ireland and potentially extending our partnership to Specialisterne at an EMEA level in 2013.”

Speaking in relation to the launch of the event, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton commented: “Almost 90% of people with autism remain unemployed and within the social welfare system. The Departments of Social Protection and Education & Skills have done everything possible to support the education of ASD children in primary and secondary school over the last number of years.  However, a growing number of families and support agencies recognise the need for a transitional strategy for young adults to ensure that investment delivers a positive impact for the individual into independent adulthood. Specialisterne Ireland can play a very significant role in filling this gap.”

Specialisterne’ s roll out in Ireland is being led by CEO Mary-Ann McCormack, who spoke of the difficulty faced by individuals with ASD in transitioning from the education system to full time employment:  “Specialisterne’s arrival in Ireland will impact on the many young people and individuals, that despite having unique and valuable abilities, have found it so difficult to enter the jobs market due to employers and society’s expectations and required parameters of acceptable staff.  Specialisterne are here to provide a transition and support strategy that benefits everyone. The launch today is only the start of the journey and there’s lots more work needed both from a corporate partnership and funding perspective over the coming years.”

For further details, contact:

Peter Brabazon
Specialisterne Ireland,
SAP Irl., A2, Waterside, Citywest Business Campus, Dublin 24,
(M) +353 87 2435 867
peter.brabazon@gmail.com

Specialisterne and the Ashoka Change Nation initiative in Ireland:
The Specialisterne project is part of the Change Nation initiative, begun by Ashoka Ireland in March 2012, when 50 of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs gathered with Irish leaders to begin implementing solutions to some of Ireland’s biggest social, economic and environmental challenges.

For more information, visit changenation.org or contact:

Barry Flinn
Ashoka Ireland,
18 Eustace St.,TempleBar,Dublin2,
t: +353 85 1626735
e: bflinn@ashoka.org

About Specialisterne Ireland
The five-year objective of Specialisterne 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 for the Specialisterne initiative during the project will be enrolled in an assessment and training program based on best practice experiences from Specialisterne operations in other countries. The program is designed to ensure and enable translation and transfer of personal special abilities into high-value work for clients.

During the project, Specialistene Ireland will work with young people with ASD and their families and the organisations supporting them in Ireland to further their understanding of  their own possibilities and opportunities, and collaborate with the corporate sector on utilizing Specialisterne’s methods to employ individuals with ASD.

The Founder of Specialisterne and Chairman of Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation), Thorkil Sonne, is an Ashoka Globalizer Fellow. Ashoka is the world’s largest organization of social entrepreneurs and changemakers and have supported the localization of Specialisterne in Ireland from the outset with its local team.

Specialisterne – The Global Story
Specialisterne (“The Specialists” in Danish) is an innovative social business concept founded in Denmark in 2004. The employees are primarily high-functioning individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), primarily Aspergers Syndrome, but many may also have ADHD, for instance. Specialisterne provides valuable services for the corporate sector on market terms, and also provides assessment, training and education services.

Specialisterne has an excellent reputation in the management and provision of software and services testing, mobile device testing, quality control and data conversion for leading companies. It invests upfront in assessing and training people to fulfill the requirements of business sectors such as IT, telecoms, healthcare, financial services and pharmaceuticals, which need people with a passion for detail, focus and perseverance.

Specialisterne will provide sustainable employment and career opportunities for individuals who typically are kept out of the job market primarily because of their disability, despite a high functionality level. The goal of the Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation), the nonprofit organization that drives the Specialisterne model globally, is to enable 1 million jobs across the world for people diagnosed with ASD and similar challenges.

Beside its origin in Denmark, Specialisterne is today present in USA, United Kingdom, Poland, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria and Norway. The Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) is also working with local stakeholders in Germany, Spain, Turkey, Canada and Singapore on planning and implementing further operations in these countries.

The primary focus for Specialisterne presently is ASD, a complex pervasive developmental disorder that affects a person’s communication and interaction with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of ASD.

The number of individuals with autism continues to grow at a rapid rate and the latest published prevalence rate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now is 1 in 88.