A social enterprise is aiming to create more jobs for autistic adults in Scotland after launching a new base in Edinburgh.
The move by Auticon UK, which exclusively employs IT consultants on the autism spectrum, follows a tie-up with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
Under the partnership, Auticon is offering full-time permanent jobs to three autistic consultants.
The successful candidates will work on IT projects at RBS headquarters.
Auticon, which raised investment from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation charity in 2016, plans to expand in Scotland by working with major local firms and small and medium-sized enterprises.
A National Autistic Society survey in 2016 found only 16% of autistic adults were in full-time employment, despite 77% of people with autism who were unemployed saying they wanted to work.
Auticon consultant Thomas Cowley, who has just completed a project for a London-based 3D printing company, said working for the enterprise felt “refreshingly normal”.
The 30-year-old, who has a degree in computer games design from Staffordshire University, added: “It makes me feel valued.
“The biggest difference is the amount of support I get, and that is a big help.
“I sit down with people every week or so, and work through the difficulties that in other companies I might simply let fester, which is a huge help.”
Auticon UK chief executive Ray Coyle said unemployment among autistic adults was “a major issue” in Scotland.
He added: “Our goal is to offer sustainable, long-term employment to as many autistic individuals in Scotland as possible, and we are inviting any candidates with a background in tech to get in touch.”
Auticon advises clients on creating autism-friendly work environments, and offers its consultants support “to ensure they feel comfortable and are able to fulfil their potential in the workplace”.
The social enterprise employs more than 150 IT consultants on the autism spectrum in the UK, US, Germany, Italy and France.
In the UK, clients include Linklaters, KPMG, Experian and GlaxoSmithKline.