DEARBORN, Mich. – For people living with autism, finding a job can be an extremely difficult process. The Ford Motor Company is looking to fix that.
People on the spectrum have some of the highest unemployment rates, but they’re qualified and smart enough to have good high paying jobs. That’s why Ford has worked to hire more people with autism over the last few years -- and it’s proving to be highly successful.
In 2016, Ford partnered with the Autism Alliance of Michigan to introduce the the Ford Works Program. The program focuses on hiring individuals -- like Ford IT business analyst Nick Howard -- who are on the autism spectrum.
Howard graduated from University of Detroit Mercy with a computer science degree and knew he was qualified for an IT job.
“I did apply for jobs, but I would find it difficult to go through the interview process where the employee effectively holds all of the cards,” Howard said.
The Ford Works Program hires people differently by using a contract-to-hire method.
“There are some challenges with the social interactions that just make it a little bit tougher to get through the interview," said diversity and inclusion specialist Dr Niambi Powell. “We really rely on the work that they’ve shown us on site.”
Ford isn’t just hiring people on the spectrum to be inclusive.
“The value that they bring to our organization -- or any organization -- is a measurable, a different way of thinking, a different perspective," Powell said.
Powell said Ford continues to see the benefits of the different set of skills that people with neurodiversity or autism bring to the table. She said hiring people like Howard is a win-win, as he has a job that he’s proud of while Ford reaps the benefits of having an employee like Howard.
“It’s quite satisfying to have a position I’m comfortable with that uses my skill set,” Howard said.
For more information on the Ford Works Program, visit the official website here.