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Spectrum Careers: Empowering and Employing an Underserved Population

Sean, Print Production Sorter, Square1 Art

Sean is a Print Production Sorter for a fundraising organization that collects children’s art from schools to be transposed on different mediums called Square1 Art. Sean originally started in an entry-level position unpacking boxes but was quickly promoted to take on additional tasks and responsibilities. Sean loves what he does, and his supervisors say he has the potential to be a department leader.

Sean is also on the autism spectrum.

The Statistics are Overwhelming

The CDC estimates that 90% of people on the autism spectrum are unemployed or under-employed. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Autistic individuals are often associated with many high-performing and sought-after workplace skills such as attention to detail, high levels of concentration and a preference for order.

Over the next decade, there will be more than 3.5 million vacant manufacturing jobs and most manufacturing executives have reported a significant gap in their ability to find talent. This is why we have started Spectrum Careers, a movement that aims to create opportunities between adults on the spectrum and manufacturing companies with a large skills gap.

Why Spectrum Careers

The idea for Spectrum Careers was motivated by two events. Having a son and two nephews on the spectrum, I was familiar with autism and the capabilities of those affected. My Spectrum Careers cofounders, Andy and Lisa Johnson were inspired after reading Randy Lewis’s story. Lewis, who led the logistics sector of Walgreens as a senior vice president, wrote in his book, No Greatness without Goodness, about his experience of watching the world through the eyes of his autistic son and realizing that we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone, including those with disabilities. Through his influence at America’s largest drugstore chain, Lewis created thousands of full-time jobs for people with disabilities, and the distribution center became the highest performing center in all of Walgreens.

Second, during my first week at Hire Dynamics, I was invited to meet with leaders in the manufacturing industry along with representatives from the nonprofit organization, Autism Speaks. As a father of an autistic son, I felt immediately called to participate in the growing workplace autism acceptance movement and in society at large.

From these two events, we created Spectrum Careers with the mission to supply meaningful jobs to people with autism. We want to open doors, clear obstacles, and make it easy for companies to employ autistic adults. To do so, we ensure the companies we partner with are the right cultural fit, and just as we do with all the talent we place, we make sure the employees are the right fit for the business. Among other things, Hire Dynamics offers job readiness preparation such as interview skills, resume editing, and on-site career coaching for a variety of candidates and positions.

Join the Movement

People believe that individuals with disabilities cannot perform manufacturing jobs, but perceptions are wrong. Sean is one of the many examples of Spectrum Careers employees who have excelled in the program, in fact, 100% of the people we have placed with Spectrum Careers have been successful and often promoted. Like Sean, Jeremiah was employed through Hire Dynamics and Spectrum Careers in a warehouse assembly role. Now, he works as a welder in the same organization, a position that requires a much higher skill set than an entry-level worker.

High Road Ice Cream production facility

Autistic employees, when aligned with their talents and interests, are productive, dependable, loyal, and have fewer workplace accidents than employees without disabilities.

Want to Know Where to Begin?

I want to help clear any obstacles your organization may face partnering with Spectrum Careers to employ this talented and underutilized group of adults. Hire Dynamics will vet, hire, and place the talent. Then, we will provide career coaches and mentoring. There is no risk to you or your business to join the movement.

Our only requirement for a Spectrum Careers partner is if our talent placement is good, then to hire them full-time. If a company is willing, we will make it work.

Want to learn even more? Watch our video on Spectrum Careers here.

Larry Feinstein is Hire Dynamics’ Chief Executive Officer.

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