Edinburgh launch for autism-focused social enterprise

From left: Ray Coyle, Viola Sommer (Auticon COO) and David Wheldon. Picture: Grey Corporate.
From left: Ray Coyle, Viola Sommer (Auticon COO) and David Wheldon. Picture: Grey Corporate.
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A social enterprise that exclusively employs IT consultants on the autism spectrum has announced the launch of a new base in Edinburgh, its first in the UK outside London, as part of a strategy to create more jobs for autistic adults in Scotland.

Auticon UK is taking the step in partnership with Royal Bank of Scotland, and its first move will be to offer full-time permanent employment to three consultants who will work on IT projects at the lender’s Gogarburn HQ.

The social enterprise, which raised investment from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation in 2016, plans to expand its presence north of the Border, working with major local firms and small and medium-sized enterprises on a project basis.

It intends to offer “long-term, quality and sustainable” employment for as many autistic people with a background in tech as possible.

Auticon says it is unique in directly employing autistic IT consultants, and offering full support via professional job coaches, who advise clients on creating autism-friendly work environments and support consultants, as needed, to ensure they feel comfortable and are able to fulfil their potential in the workplace.

It also cited data from the National Autistic Society finding that, in the UK, only 16 per cent of autistic adults are in full-time employment, but 77 per cent who are unemployed say they want to work.

Auticon employs more than 150 IT consultants on the autism spectrum in the UK, US, Germany, Italy and France, and says it is the first social enterprise to scale this model across Europe and worldwide.

Its new base in Edinburgh follows successful projects with the instant supplier ­payments decision-making company Previse in Glasgow and support from Alexander Mann Solutions.

In the UK, consultants from the social enterprise work on IT projects for clients including Linklaters, KPMG, Experian and GlaxoSmithKline.

Auticon UK’s chief executive Ray Coyle said: “Unemployment among autistic adults is a major issue in Scotland, so we are thrilled to be working with RBS to launch a new base in Edinburgh.

“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 consultants offer market-leading services in tech and IT, and are incredibly popular with blue-chips. Our partnership with RBS has paved the way to our launch in Edinburgh – and we are keen to grow our presence and work with major firms and SMEs across the country.”

RBS’ chief marketing officer and executive sponsor for the bank’s disability agenda, David Wheldon, said the lender “is committed to, and passionate about, building an inclusive bank for both our customers and our colleagues”.

He added: “We are here to serve customers well and this drives our commitment to a diverse and inclusive culture as we strive to make this a great place to work and a great place to bank. We are proud to be working with Auticon to help bring new employment opportunities to autistic adults in Scotland.”