Autism and coding: Difficulties in starting tech career

It’s no secret that every company is looking for unique ways to hire after the global pandemic forced the great resignation of workers across Canada. British Columbia businesses are trying to rapidly fill the gaps as the economy starts up again, but there’s a limited talent pool out there for technology positions. It’s worth, therefore, looking at what bigger businesses are doing to get a competitive edge and find new hires quickly. Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase and SAP, among many other multinationals, have set up dedicated autism hiring programs to tap into the many benefits of autistic workers. This trend should inspire a move toward neurodiversity in Vancouver as a way of getting ahead of the competition, as well as developing social inclusion. 

Barriers to Autistic Employment

The benefits that autistic workers bring to the table are multiple. Firstly, they have large capacities for concentration on specific tasks. Secondly, they are capable of true out of the box thinking and will give your company fresh eyes and thoughts on your existing problems and processes. Finally, they will build empathy in your staff as they have to work out how to include and work with their neurodiverse colleagues. 

Given all these positives, it’s strange that over 80% of the autistic adults in British Columbia are either unemployed or in work that doesn’t recognise their skills and experience. However, there are many barriers to employment that autistic jobseekers face:

  • Stereotypes – the main problem that potential autistic workers face are the subconscious biases and negative stereotypes that society in general holds about them. These come from unhelpful media portrayals and a misunderstanding about what it actually means to be autistic. Whether they like it or not, hiring teams who find out that one of their applicants is autistic are more likely to subconsciously pass them over for a neurotypical employee with similar skills and experience, denying the autistic person an opportunity to show what they’re capable of. 
  • Biased application processes – many jobs still stick to the age old written application as a way of sorting through candidates. Not only does this prefer people who are able to write coherently in a prescribed format, but it also rules out autistic workers who would be able to do the job but don’t know how to “play the game” of extrapolating your recent experiences to the new hypothetical job. 
  • Face to face interviews – even if they are able to navigate the written application process, autistic jobseekers often fall down at the interview. A face to face interview is stressful enough for neurotypical individuals, but it’s a virtual minefield for autistic interviewees. The whole process is filled with social cues, body language and nuanced questions, all of which are hard for autistic people to understand. 

Why Autism And Coding Go Together

The one field where autistic jobseekers seem to find better levels of success is information technology, and, more specifically, coding jobs. Coding represents a concrete set of rules and syntax to learn and use in creative ways, which appeals to many autistic workers. It also tends to be an independent kind of role where there’s limited expectations of the worker to interact with their peers in meetings or to collaborate. Finally, it’s possible to lose yourself in coding which plays well for many autistic employees who have the capacity for extended periods of concentration, especially when it’s on something that they have a particular interest in. 

Getting Help Starting An Autistic Tech Career

The benefits and positives of technology as a possible career for autistic workers in British Columbia compete fairly evenly with the barriers that prevent more autistic people taking their rightful place in the workplace. This is where signing up with a professional tech and talent agency in Vancouver will make a big difference. Autistic jobseekers can expect help in the following ways:

  • Job training – autism talent management agencies often specialise in having both specific job training for technology positions, as well as workplace training. This latter will include how to manage the commute, as well as advocating for accommodations before the job starts. 
  • Direct links – another benefit of getting professional help is that an autism talent management agency will have direct links with companies who are actively seeking autistic workers. This drastically increases the chances of a positive outcome as well as making it into a permanent position. 
  • Onboarding – finally, autistic jobseekers who work with a tech and talent agency in Vancouver can expect significant help with the onboarding process. This will include working with their new supervisor about how to best support the new hire, as well as whole staff training to try and break some of the out of date stereotypes about autistic workers.
By Admin

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