Specialisterne, a non-profit social enterprise that operates in 12 countries and partners with corporations, universities, high schools, and community agencies, has created more than 10,000 jobs for people with different abilities.
Its aim is to make a change by examining traditional recruiting, training and on-boarding practices to assist companies to employ work-ready neurodiverse talent.
It all started when the son of its founder, Thorkil Sonne, was diagnosed with ‘infantile autism, normal intelligence” at age 3. At this point, Thorkil joined and soon became president of a local chapter of Autism Denmark, where he realized that people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) do not often get the chance to use their skills in the labor market.
Sonne has worked with IT within telecommunication companies for 15 years, so he recognized the skills in people with ASD, so he decided to start up the enterprise. He asked for a loan on his house and with the support of his family, he started working on making his dream come true.
His not-for-profit foundation works hard to create one million jobs globally for people with autism.
Specialisterne defines them as “specialist people”, and regards them as specialists with great business potential. These people have valuable skills, such as a remarkable memory are passionate for details, have a structural way of working, and can do repetitive tasks with unceasing enthusiasm.
Sonne explains that his goal is to create new possibilities for people with ASD since heir capacity and potential have been unappreciated for too long. He believes that they can succeed by spreading the Specialisterne model around the world and sharing their knowledge with workplaces so that they can better integrate these individuals.
In this way, the world will become a place free of discrimination, unnecessary barriers, taboos, and stereotypes.
He has been adopted as a fellow by the global network of social entrepreneurs, Ashoka, which will support his goals and help to globalize their concept. Sonne adds that it all started with one boy and one autism diagnosis, but they are well en route to realizing the goal of 1 million jobs for “specialist people.”