South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

CAI Autism2Work Uplifts and Empowers Neurodiverse Talent

on December 20, 2021 / by Riley Kaminer ,

Read Time 3 Minutes

Increasing diversity in the workplace is a major topic for business leaders in South Florida and beyond. One important – but often overlooked – part of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives is making a workplace welcoming to neurodivergent employees. Up to 20% of Americans can be classified as neurodivergent: a term that includes developmental and neurological differences such as autism, OCD, ADHD, and dyslexia.

CAI, a leading business technology services firm headquartered in Allentown, PA, is committed to helping private and public organizations drive value, improve productivity, and enhance customer experience by realizing the benefits of neurodiversity. The company, which has a major footprint in South Florida and plays an active role in our local tech scene, runs a program called CAI Autism2Work. Their unique employment model is designed to bring the neurodiverse talent pool into the workforce. CAI manages not only the recruiting, selection, and training of team members, but also the cultural integration, on-the-job supervision, skill development, and ongoing performance management.

Michael Park

CAI’s Michael Park, Executive Vice President, leads CAI Autism2Work. He explained to South Florida Tech Hub that the program aims to empower neurodiverse talent to pave the way towards a successful career.

“The program is about taking individuals who are extremely talented and just unable to break into the job market on their own because their neurodiversity may prevent them from making it through a typical onboarding and recruiting process,” said Park.

CAI’s Job Readiness Training invites neurodivergent individuals to showcase their talents in a supportive environment by replacing the traditional interview with an assessment and extensive evaluation. Then, upon successful completion – candidates can become eligible for an offer of employment. Once in the workplace, team members receive guidance, mentorship, coaching, on-the-job training, and continuous professional development from a neurodiversity-certified team lead.

Park emphasized that this program is a great talent pipeline at a time when the labor market is tight. “Right now, we have more positions to fill than we have available candidates,” he said. “This is an untapped talent pool.”

CAI Autism2Work was founded in 2013. But Park said that the initiative has seen “substantial growth every year,” particularly in the last two years. In 2021 alone, they realized a 38% year-over-year increase in the number of neurodivergent individuals placed in employment opportunities

Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer, a South Florida-based advisory client executive at CAI, noted that loyalty among employees is waning in the era of the so-called ‘great resignation.’

“People in this program can be some of the most loyal employees that anyone would ever have,” said Boyer. “They’re happy, confident, in a good environment and are tremendously successful.”

Boyer has seen the power of this program firsthand. A family member of hers recently went through the job readiness training. Ultimately, she said that the family member was not quite ready to work with clients. “But just watching the team work with him on a regular basis, and seeing the confidence and exposure he got, makes me choke up.”

She continued: “It was pretty amazing. He never had anything like that before.”

Boyer praised South Florida Tech Hub’s DEI efforts, spearheaded by CEO Nikki Cabus: “The efforts she’s making on expanding diversity in all of our South Florida tech communities is remarkable.”

Learn more about CAI’s neurodiversity efforts by visiting their website.