Cambridge spearheads technology internships for people with autism

Joseph Winters 3 April 2014

The University of Cambridge will support a new internship with German software company, SAP, to promote people with autism in the workplace. The University plans to create a five-year agreement with the world’s third largest software firm to identify talented students for their Autism at Work initiative.

Students will be placed in one of five SAP locations, America, Canada, Ireland, India or Germany, with the aim of full-time employment at the end of the internship.

The firm hopes that by 2020, 1% of its global workforce of 65,000 employees will be people with autism.

Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre, led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, will help to ensure that the internship process will be “autism-friendly” and compliant with the Department of Health’s autism strategy.

Professor Baron-Cohen will also provide ongoing consultation with SAP for its Autism at Work initiative.

Professor Sir Leszek Broysievicz, Vice-Chancellor Cambridge, explained that the University “is delighted to be partnering in this way.”

He explained: “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.”

The company launched its Autism at Work initiative last May, saying that people with autism have a unique talent for information technology.

Anka Wittenberg, SAP’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, expressed the company’s desire “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.”