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So, you need tech skills...

Tech skills – the term on the edge of employers’ tongues. Digital tech skills are in high demand across Scotland right now with many unfilled vacancies. To meet the expanding need for digital tech skills, the talent pool needs to be wider – but are you tapping into the job market as well as you could be?

Employers should be encouraging and supporting greater involvement of neurodivergent people within the tech talent pipeline whose unique skillsets can lend themselves well to a variety of digital careers.

What is neurodiversity?

"Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally think about things differently."

ACAS

Most people are neurotypical, which means the brain functions and processes information in the way society expects. Some people are neurodivergent, which means the brain functions, learns, and processes information differently to the norm.

It’s estimated that at least 1 in 10 people in Scotland are neurodivergent, equating to around 10% of the population. A considerable number of these people remain unemployed or underemployed due to being unsupported in education and employment. Inevitably, this is leading to a huge loss of potential talent.

Neurodiversity and technology skills

Neurodivergent people can have skills and qualities that lend themselves particularly well to high-quality digital tech employment – the same skills tech employers are looking for:

  • Autism – Logical thinking, attention to detail, dedication
  • ADHD – Hyper-focus, entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation
  • Dyslexia – Entrepreneurship, pattern spotting, creative problem solving
  • Dyspraxia – Strategic thinking, problem solving, highly motivated, dedicated
Many autistic people are simply brilliant people – highly educated, highly capable, detail-orientated, yet unemployed.
James Mahoney, Executive Director and Head of Autism at Work for JP Morgan Chase

Benefits of a neurodiverse workforce

Given it is estimated that at least 10% of the population are neurodivergent, representation in workforces is likely to be underestimated in Scotland. Now is the prime opportunity to attract and help neurodivergent people enter the tech talent pipeline.

Recruit from a larger pool

For employers, increasing opportunities for neurodivergent individuals to enter the business brings the benefit of being able to recruit from a much larger talent pool.

Increased retention

As well as high productivity, it’s reported that retention rates among neurodivergent employees are extremely high. Hewlett Packard Enterprises has seen a 98% retention rate amongst its autistic workers.

Enhanced business reputation

Equality and inclusion can also enhance your organisation’s reputation and make it more attractive to potential recruits, customers, and clients. It can also make current employees feel more positive about their workforce.

Increased productivity and innovation

Evidence points to higher than average productivity amongst neurodivergent employees. Neurodiverse teams bring diversity of thought, leading to greater innovation and creativity, resulting in better services being developed.

Guides to get you started

These guides will help you understand neurodiversity and how adjustments can be made to recruit and support neurodivergent employees. Select the guide that’s right for your business from the options below.

CIPD

This guide is for HR professionals and leaders who’d like to learn more about neurodiversity, including the benefits to their organisation and how they can support neurodivergent people at work.

The CIPD’s (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s) guide aims to raise awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace and inspire more employers to take action. In it, employers are urged to encourage applications from neurodivergent applicants, remove potential obstacles in the hiring process, and support all neurodivergent staff to achieve their full potential.

The CIPD are pushing for employers to make adjustments that’ll enable neurodivergent people to thrive at work which, as their extensive research shows, will benefit everyone in the process. Most of the changes detailed in the guide are low-cost, easy to implement, and can make a significant difference to neurodivergent people’s working lives, potential, and careers.

Read the guide on cipd.co.uk

DMA

DMA Talent’s primary goal is to attract the next generation of fresh thinkers into the data and marketing industry by showcasing and raising awareness of the dynamic range of career opportunities within their sector.

The Neurodiversity Initiative aims to educate employers on how to diversify and support their workforce. Since its launch in 2017, the initiative has provided training and guidance to hundreds of organisations within the UK, including advice on reasonable adjustments employers can make to their recruitment processes, work environments, and support networks to improve the treatment of neurodivergent applicants and employees.

Through the initiative, DMA Talent have also helped to create a series of employer guides for autistic, dyslexic and ADHD employees, using insight from neurodiversity consultants, NHS experts, and leading industry figures – some with neurodiverse conditions themselves.

Read the guides on dma.org.uk

Services and support for employers and employees

The following organisations have many resources to help you prepare for a more neurodiverse workforce and work with neurodivergent employees to unlock their potential.

Advice on workplace practices for neurodivergent individuals

In this webinar, presented by ScotlandIS, BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT) and the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)Rebecca Wones and Mellissa Warrender from Lexxic talk about how to create workplace practices to facilitate the recruitment and retention of neurodivergent individuals.

The topics covered are:

  1. What is neurodiversity?
  2. Neurodiversity in the workplace
  3. What can I do?
  4. Why should I do it?
  5. How can I do it?
  6. Lexxic best practice

Plus there's a Q&A session at the end.

The event is introduced by Nicola Taylor, Programme Leader of Skills at ScotlandIS.

Autism support for employers

Auticon

auticon recognise that, just as each neurodivergent person is unique, each company they work with is also unique. Therefore, auticon offer bespoke support and advise tailored to each company they work with, drawing on the experience of over 200 IT professionals to help you incorporate the neurodivergent perspective in all that you do.

ENABLE Works

ENABLE Works are offering digital tech companies the opportunity to understand potential limitations within their current recruitment practices. They offer support to employers to help them ensure they’re inclusive and flexible for autistic people, thus improving their ability to recruit the best possible candidates for their vacancies.

The programme offers digital tech companies the opportunity to attend a free Autism Awareness Training session, specifically customised to a digital tech audience. Employers will also be provided with a resource pack to assist their practical application of learning.

Into Work

Into Work’s new ‘Autism Works!’ training course aims to equip employers to better understand the diverse capabilities and skill-sets autistic employees can bring to their workforce. They have many resources to help you build confidence in recruiting, reskilling and promoting autistic staff. The course is suitable for Line managers and HR professionals of companies based in the Edinburgh and Lothians area.


SWAN

Working in partnership with other organisations and bodies, SWAN support employers across all sectors to help them to create or develop their understanding and skills for working with autistic employees.

Additionally, they support autistic women in the workplace through coaching, mentoring and practical support such as personal goal setting, exploring career pathways, interview techniques, influencing skills, self-care and managing change.

SWAN are building on their expertise and using their case-work to develop specialist resources for employers and managers, such as training packages and guides for making reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Triple A’s – One Stop

Shop Aberdeen
As an autistic led organisation, AAA and One Stop Shop Aberdeen help employers work successfully with autistic individuals by reviewing the complete employee life cycle from an autistic point of view.

They deliver training for staff and line managers in understanding autism at work, including benefits and support considerations, and deliver workplace strategy coaching for autistic employees to work out their reasonable adjustment support needs and put them into practice effectively.

Additionally, the team also offer co-coaching for autistic employees and their managers to support good work relationships, productiveness and development.

ADHD support for employers

Scottish ADHD Coalition

The Scottish ADHD Coalition aim to raise awareness of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Scottish workforces. It’s a resource for employers to learn about the condition ADHD and what can be done to support staff and colleagues to allow them to work effectively, such as any reasonable adjustments that can be provided.

Dyslexia support for employers

Dyslexia Scotland

Dyslexia Scotland aims to inspire and enable dyslexic people to realise their potential. They work with the dyslexic community directly and with educators, employers and others to create dyslexia-friendly learning and working cultures.
As well as bespoke training courses, Dyslexia Scotland also have an employer guide for adults and their Udemy course supports employers looking to support dyslexic people with job applications.

Schemes and funding

Disability Confident

The Disability Confident scheme supports the UK Government’s commitment to having one million more disabled people in work by 2027. Disability Confident provides employers with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace.

No employer is too small or new to start the journey and even the most experienced employer will still find new techniques and best practice that can help them.

Access to Work

Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support grant scheme that aims to support disabled people start or stay in work. It can provide practical and financial support for people who have a disability or long term physical or mental health condition.

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to enable your employee to start or stay in work, or to support you if you are self-employed.

Visit gov.uk for further information about how it can help you and your neurodivergent employees.

Workplace rights

ACAS

ACAS provide free, impartial advice, rules and best practice on workplace rights for employees and employers. They also offer training to help resolve disputes including those related to neurodivergent individuals and neurodiversity.

To find out other ways that ACAS can help, visit acas.org.uk.

Further support for employers

ADI by Akari


ADI by Akari is a free Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion app for Microsoft Teams that aims to ensure technology is as socially inclusive for neurodivergent employees as possible. The ADI webapp can surface information on accessibility features such as immersive reader, live captions and message translation within Teams, Windows 10 and Office 365. Employers can use this to support and raise awareness of accessibility needs within in their own organisations.


Lexxic

Lexxic are leaders in empowering neurodiversity in the workplace, making it their mission to inspire a working world that supports and values the talents of neurodiverse minds.

Partnering with organisations, Lexxic strive to make a positive difference by creating tailored, strategic change programmes and delivering psychological support services to neurodiverse talent; supporting individuals with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia (DCD), dyscalculia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum conditions (ASC) cognitive functioning difficulties and mental health.

Do-IT solutions

Do-IT Solutions is a tech-for-good company championing neurodiversity and wellbeing in education and the workplace.

They help organisations and individuals have more informed conversations through tailored online screening and assessment tools that deliver person-centered solutions.

The Do-IT team have extensive internationally recognized expertise in the field of neurodiversity and delivers remote training, e-learning, and accredited courses. Do-IT can help you deliver inclusive approaches, supporting the strengths and minimizing challenges of all people.

Learn from other employers

To hear from employers who are already implementing inclusive strategies for neurodivergent people, visit our case studies page.