Skip to content

You are using an outdated browser

Internet Explorer is not supported by this site and Microsfot has stopped releasing updates, therefore you may encounter issues whilst visiting this site and we strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser for modern web functionality, a better user experience and improved security.

Upgrade my browser

This man founded Specialisterne to create 1 million jobs for people with autism

2 min read

Better Society
This man founded a company to create 1 million jobs for people with autism
Source: Kristian Soderup

Specialisterne aims to ensure that every autistic and other neurodiverse people who want a meaningful career, get a meaningful career.

Inclusion through neurodiversity

Specialisterne is a non-profit social enterprise that partners with corporations, universities, high schools, and community agencies. Its goal is to help companies to employ work-ready neurodiverse talent.  They create change by examining traditional recruiting, training and onboarding practices. Specialisterne operates in 12 countries and has so far created over 10,000 jobs for people with different abilities.

And inclusive workforce is a better workforce A workforce that draws on the talents of the whole society is better for everyone, and a place where autistic people thrive will be a better place to work for all. Source: Facebook/WorldEconomicForum

Specialisterne: enabling one million jobs

The son of Specialisterne founder Thorkil Sonne was given the diagnosis “infantile autism, normal intelligence” at age 3. This motivated Thorkil to join a local chapter of Autism Denmark. Soon, he would become the president of this local organisation. This is where Thornkil learned that people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seldom have a chance to use their special skills in the labour market.

After 15 years working with IT within telecommunication companies, Sonne knew the value of the skills he saw in people with ASD. With the support of his family, Thorkil was able to start up Specialisterne Foundation. His not-for-profit organisation aims to create one million jobs globally for people with autism.

People with autism often have skills that are very valuable on the labour market. Take, for example, an outstanding memory or a remarkable eye for detail.

Also, they often have a structured way of working, can think outside the box and have a passion for detail. Moreover, they are often capable of doing repetitive tasks with unceasing enthusiasm.

Specialisterne defines them as “specialist people” – specialists with a business potential that can be realised through special understanding and management.

Source: SpecialisterneFoundation

Neurodiversity as a competitive advantage

The mission of Specialisterne is to collect and share knowledge that will help people with autism thrive and excel on the labour market by: 

  1. Supporting the development and international roll-out of Specialisterne – local licensees that base their business model on the concept of assessing, training and employing people with autism.
  2. Support labour market stakeholders in the integration of people with autism into the labour market.
  3. Create respect and awareness of the skills and rights of people with autism based on the UN Convention, The Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Teaching employers to see neurodiversity as a competitive advantage through:

  • Leadership in their industry
  • Productivity gains
  • Quality Improvement
  • Access to an untapped talent pool
  • Better management practices
  • Reputational enhancement
  • Increased innovative capabilities
  • Broad increases in employee engagement

Specialisterne can currently be found in the following locations around the world: Denmark, USA, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Spain, Brazil, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Australia, Singapore, Italy

Click the above links for country-specific information and contact info.

You can follow Specialisterne on Facebook and Twitter 

Peter Brabazon, Specialisterne Ireland | Inspirefest 2018 Peter Brabazon, general manager of Specialisterne Ireland, presents a keynote during a session on ‘The Autism Advantage’ at Inspirefest 2018. Source: YouTube/InspirefestHQ

This article was first published on BrightVibes on 4 April 2019.

Make an Impact

Why people with disabilities are your company’s untapped resource

Want to know how to attract the innovative and resilient employees required to give you a competitive edge in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Then look no further: this article from the World Economic Forum will teach you about the untapped talent that awaits if you remove the barriers that keep millions of talented people with differing abilities outside the workforce.

Join the Conversation Login or Signup to Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments