SAP AG unveiled a new internship program with the University of Cambridge that will support Autism at Work—the company's global initiative to employ people with autism.
The company brought onboard its first group of employees with autism in the United States, in its Palo Alto, CA, and Newtown Square, PA offices. Later this spring, the Vancouver and Montreal locations are slated to join the program.
Seeking Software Skills
The two organizations plan to create a five-year agreement to identify talented students for the Autism at Work initiative. As part of the internship, the students will join the program in one of five SAP locations in India, U.S., Canada, Ireland or Germany—with the goal of being selected as SAP employees at the end of their internship. Students with skills in software knowledge and programming are the primary target group.
SAP plans to work specifically with the Autism Research Centre at University of Cambridge, directed by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, an international researcher for autism. Professor Baron-Cohen will help ensure that the internship process is designed to be "autism-friendly" and compliant with the autism strategy, as written by the UK Department of Health, in addition to providing ongoing consultation with SAP for its Autism at Work initiative.
"SAP is setting a terrific example, showing that a multinational, IT company not only positively welcomes applicants with autism or Asperger Syndrome, but believes that there is a strong business case for employing them, because of their special talents," said Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University.
The University of Cambridge’s program demonstrates SAP's momentum in creating global support for Autism at Work, since its global partnership with Specialisterne was announced last May. Specialisterne is a group that helps individuals with autism get training and support for technical jobs, to rollout the program worldwide.
"The foundation of innovation is a diverse workforce, and the most creative ideas can come from unexpected places," said Anka Wittenberg, chief diversity and inclusion officer, SAP AG. "We hope to spark a global movement that gives people on the autism spectrum an opportunity to add their special talents and perspectives to the business world. By uniting with Cambridge University and other partners, we can change the way people think about innovation and help the world run better."
Support from State Agencies and Non-Profit Organizations
To support its efforts in California, SAP is also identifying and training job candidates in collaboration with the California Department of Rehabilitation and TransAccess, a California based non-profit organization that provides a broad variety of services for people with disabilities, including employment.
Similarly, as SAP begins its initiative in Pennsylvania, the company is working with The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation via the Philadelphia Chapter of The Arc—the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.