Canadian operation is latest in worldwide expansion of successful and award-winning international social enterprise
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TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Specialisterne, an internationally recognized leader in harnessing the talents of people on the autism spectrum, launched today in Canada, with headquarters in Toronto and offices in Vancouver, and Quebec City. Specialisterne Canada Inc. is teaming up with government, community and corporate partners to provide people on the autism spectrum - an under-utilized human resource - with the opportunity to obtain meaningful and sustained employment.
Originally founded in Denmark in 2004 by Thorkil Sonne, a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, Specialisterne has turned into a global movement with the parent organization Specialist People Foundation as a platform designed to enable 1 million jobs globally for people with autism and similar challenges. In Canada, Specialisterne aims to enable 10,000 jobs through its related IT consulting business and by actively working with corporations and public agencies to train and employ people with autism in their own organizations. Sonne has relocated to Delaware, USA, to lead the Specialisterne impact in North America.
"There is so much opportunity for us in Canada to create meaningful and productive jobs for the growing number of people diagnosed with autism," says Thorkil Sonne, Founder of Specialisterne. "There is clearly a readiness and excitement here and we are confident that the combination of our operational experience from 11 countries, and a very strong and dedicated team in Canada, will bring about the sort of change that will benefit all stakeholders."
The Specialisterne model has made a tremendous impact by identifying and cultivating the strengths and capabilities of individuals on the autism spectrum - many of them with unique skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through specialized hiring, onboarding and management practices, employees and employers are armed to succeed in previously inaccessible industries and careers.
A key objective for Specialisterne in Canada will be to convince corporate Canada that employment of people with autism makes sense not just in terms of meeting diversity and inclusion goals, but also as because it makes good business sense. The company is currently recruiting for a variety of technology roles in Vancouver and Montreal for SAP Canada Inc. a worldwide leader in business management software and Specialisterne's first corporate client in Canada, and is engaged in discussions with other leading enterprises across Canada.
"This is much more than an altruistic venture," said Kirsten Sutton, vice president and managing director of SAP® Labs Canada. "We have already seen through successful pilot projects in India and Ireland how the employment of people with diverse talents, including people with autism, can offer us a new way of thinking and bring value to our business."
For governments, the socio-economic benefits of employing people on the autism spectrum are compelling. A recently published impact analysis on Specialisterne in Denmark showed more than 2 times return on investment measured in welfare savings, taxes generated and other contributions, resulting in an actual annual value creation totalling several millions of dollars to the state.
"I want to commend Specialisterne Canada for choosing to open an office in Ontario," said Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. "Social enterprises like Specialisterne Canada make our communities stronger and help to build a fair Ontario for everyone. Ontario's recently released, Impact - A Social Enterprise Strategy for Ontario, will help position the province as the leading social enterprise jurisdiction in North America. Social enterprises, like Specialisterne, make good business sense and deliver effective solutions for pressing social challenges, like helping people with autism find meaningful job opportunities."
Specialisterne translates from Danish as "The Specialists," and was originally founded in Denmark by Thorkil Sonne in 2004. Specialisterne is a socially innovative business that uses the characteristics of people with autism as a competitive advantage, and as a means to help people with autism secure employment. The majority of the employees in Specialisterne have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, and work as consultants on tasks such as software testing, programming and data-entry for the corporate sector. Today, Specialisterne operations exist in Denmark, Poland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, the U.S., the UK and Canada. The Specialisterne concept is owned by the Specialist People Foundation.
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SOURCE: Specialisterne Canada Inc.
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