With the world marking World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, Emerging Europe talks with the Polish non-profit organisation AsperIT, which is training and employing people with Asperger’s syndrome.
Wrocław-based AsperIT has devised an ingenious way of combining under-utilised skills and business demands.
Paweł Wojtyczka, the head of asperIT.com, says that his organisation trains and employs people with Asperger’s, a neuro-developmental disorder which causes disturbance in development across a range of areas in the young person’s life.
These areas include social interaction, communication, repetitive behaviours, restricted interests and sensory preferences.
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“We set up the training part a while before the company, as many of the graduates couldn’t find a job after graduating,” Wojtyczka tells Emerging Europe. The project was created and is implemented by the EFAS Foundation.
The idea for the AsperIT project was born in two ways, says co-founder Tomasz Jasiński.
“Firstly, it was due to the psychological interests of the founder, Paweł Wojtyczka. Personal experience in the IT industry provided an additional impulse. Both Paweł and I have many years of experience in this field. We knew that in the West there were initiatives and companies not only training people with autism for work, but even basing the activities of their technology sectors solely on such employees. As for the examples of market companies, it is worth mentioning the Norwegian Unicus or the German auticon,” adds Jasiński.
AsperIT now has several clients that employ the company to test mobile, web and other applications.
A perfect match
“The people we employ are ideally suited to this kind of work,” Wojtyczka says. “They often communicate better via technology and are often happier when doing manual and repetitive things.”
The project was started in Wrocław in 2017 with 12 trainees. Another member of the team, Błażej Knapik, says that since 2017, the asperIT project has managed to conduct over 330 hours of training, in which almost 50 participants took part.
Wojtyczka says the company is planning to set up branches in all of Poland’s main cities.
“Over the next five years or so we also want to get younger people involved, to help them earlier to acquire the social skills needed in later life,” Wojtyczka says. Currently, most of the company’s employees are in their twenties or thirties.
In 2017, the project was honoured by the Polish Ministry of Development as one of the eight most innovative projects in the country.
Wojtyczka says he is in talks with companies in Western Europe and North America about venture capital financing to boost the company’s range.
The organisation has benefited from public money to date, while the company earns on the IT market.
“As a company we consider going public through Warsaw Stock Exchange or an ICO to speed up our activity”, Wojtyczka concludes.
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