While we haven't seen details of the program, we are hopeful for what this partnership may bring and encouraged by the public acknowledgement of the special skill sets of those with autism.
In a post to the Microsoft blog on April 3, Mary Ellen Smith, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Operations, Microsoft, had much to say about the value Microsoft sees in people with autism. "It’s simple, Microsoft is stronger when we expand opportunity and we have a diverse workforce that represents our customers," Smith said. "People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft, each individual is different, some have amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code. It’s a talent pool that we want to continue to bring to Microsoft!"
"People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft..."
As mentioned, the Microsoft pilot is in collaboration with SpecialIsterne, who assesses, trains and employs individuals with autism as consultants in technically oriented fields. They report that 80-90% of their employees work at corporate partner sites. SpecialIsterne is currently operating in three US regions and has set an ambitious three year goal of expanding into 10-12 US regions, with a long term goal of enabling 100,000 US jobs.
While we weren't able to find details on how the Microsoft - SpecialIsterne partnership will look, we imagine, given SpecialIsterne's goals, that this effort will launch SpecialIsterne's fourth US region as the Northwest US with Microsoft acting as a corporate partner.