Course on Data Processing and Software Testing

 For many people with autism, administrative tasks or within IT are a good fit in terms of abilities and interests. Some common characteristics in many people with autism are attention to detail, visual ability and memory, perseverance, or pattern recognition fit very well with these types of tasks.

 Specialisterne was founded in Denmark in 2004, initially dedicating itself to software testing, a computing task that fits very well with these characteristics. Subsequently, it has expanded its scope of action and continues to do so in order to benefit people with autism with other abilities or interests.

Discover talent

Our training course provides people with autism or similar conditions an opportunity to change their lives by identifying and developing talent that can be applied in a professional work environment. We work with our students to find out what their special skill set is, what their personal and professional competencies and interests are, and what special needs or challenges they have.

 Our initial goal is to look beyond diagnosis and identify talent: for example, the ability to identify patterns that are not easily visible to most people, the ability to maintain a very high level of concentration for longer periods than normal, have an excellent memory, or be able to perform certain tasks over and over again without error . The options are as varied as the personalities of the candidates.

 We also understand that due to the nature of autism and other similar conditions, our students often have very specific needs or difficulties when considering a possible workplace. Some, for example, may need some flexibility in their working hours and others may need specific advice or a very clear and predictable structure in their day-to-day life. Every student is different. It is the job of our team of trainers and coaches to meet individual needs for support, guidance and adjustments in the workplace.

Technical formation

Students with autism or similar diagnoses receive training in areas such as software testing, data and document processing, two areas for which many people with autism tend to be especially gifted and for which we are in demand for professionals. We also offer training for specific tasks or tools that our clients require.

The main technical training modules are:

  • Programming basic concepts using LEGO Mindstorm robot.
  • Project, task and time management with the ‘scrum’ methodology (widely used today in the technology sector).
  • Office automation and data and document processing (with tools such as Microsoft Office).
  • Software testing, including preparation for the ISTQB Foundation Level certification, which accredits software testers in more than 100 countries.

 Some people come to Specialisterne with prior training in IT, accounting or other fields. In these cases, we adjust and individualize the technical training and later we look for job opportunities suited to the training given.

Socio-labour training

Throughout all the months of training, and in a transversal way, we also train and prepare the students in the necessary socio-occupational skills that are essential to ensure their employability.

 We believe in the potential of people and in their ability to learn new strategies and behaviour’s that offer them job security . We have a competency model, which allows us to project the development of all personnel who are trained or work at Specialisterne. For us, social and occupational skills are as important as technical skills. A team of trainers and coaches carry out this training, which is complemented by individual work coaching sessions.

 The following list shows the main areas and some social skills related to each area:

  • Organization and planning: projects, estimation and time management, teamwork, flexibility, prioritization, work under pressure.
  • Social interaction and communication at work: Asking for help, expressing concerns, receiving feedback, addressing colleagues and team leaders, problem solving, error solving, company language, personal image (clothing, cleanliness, order, punctuality), communication (types, process, barriers), active listening, assertiveness, confidentiality, cultural norms and communication channels in the company, preparing a CV, job interviews
  • Other related topics: Motivation, expectations, detection and management of stress and anxiety, health and well-being, new concepts such as neurodiversity.

Result: Towards a job

Once the final profile of each student has been determined, we focus on finding a job opportunity that fits them. If the student has a profile that matches jobs in the field of data and document processing, software testing or others in the field of computer science, in most cases we offer to work as a consultant at Specialisterne. Little by little, we are doing the same for other profiles, offering opportunities in other types of tasks, such as those of the service sector. In the Job Opportunities section you can see the positions for which we are most in demand at the moment.

 

In cases where the profile does not match the jobs we have available, we offer additional support and guidance in identifying employment alternatives or additional training opportunities.

With the course of data processing and software testing, which usually lasts between 4 and 5 months, we want to prepare people with autism to perform various administrative and computer tasks. The course includes both technical training and socio-occupational training, and seeks to prepare professionals who, later, can have an indefinite job opportunity and a professional career that will start with a consultant position at Specialisterne and will be accompanied by job coaching.

More information at [email protected]

Specialisterne has been an opportunity for me to start over

It is a company that has trusted in my potentials, has helped me improve everything that was not going so well and has allowed me to show that I can really be useful.

FAQ – TRAINING

The next editions of the courses start in September / October, both in Barcelona and Madrid.

They will be courses of 5 months, with the following schedule:

  • Monday and Friday: from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Students do not have to pay any amount to enrol in the training courses. Specialisterne receives some subsidies and public and private aid that cover part of the costs, and assumes the rest of the costs. (See the list of sponsors on the Acknowledgments page). In some cases, we have received grants directly for the students that help them cover their transportation and living costs.  We have also helped with student accomodation  including shared apartments for the duration of the course.

Some public grants are conditional as students require to be no older than 30 years, hold a or valid disability certificate, therefore certain aspects of the course may not fit all students. 

The training at Specialisterne aims to train students, both from a technical standpoint as well as a social and professional one, so they can work on data and document processing tasks, software testing and other more advanced tasks.

The training is structured in 3 sections:

  • Adaptation, where we seek for students to adjust to the environment, we get to know them, and we teach them the basics of project management and computer science. To achieve this, we use LEGO Mindstorm robots, initiating students into their programming and use. (No previous computer knowledge is required).
  • Training of specialists, where we provide training in data processing tools, project management and software testing. Students who wish to, may sit an external official examination in software testing (ISTQB) that certifies them internationally. At the same time, we work individually, and with the help of the tutor, to improve the social and work skills of each student, seeking to improve their employability.
  • Internships, where we put students through situations that are increasingly more similar to the ones that they will face in a real job, while they practice performing different tasks. We continue to work the social and work skills, exploring the motivations of each student and assessing the type of tasks that they can fit in better. 
Both in Madrid and in Barcelona, ​​training courses welcome students from all over Spain, so training is taught in Spanish.
 
The Ideal destination of our students is that, at the end of the training course, they join the staff of Specialisterne as consultants. The whole Specialisterne team works towards that goal.

But in some cases, this incorporation is delayed because:

  • The student still needs to improve technical, social or work skills, and we have to extend their training.
  • The student is ready, but we are waiting for a project to assign them. While they wait, the students continue their training.

In some cases, we do not offer a job to the student, considering that he has not achieved a minimum level of compliance with the objectives that will allow us to hire him or her. In these cases, we provide a proposal for personal improvement or refer students to other companies or entities (often, Special Employment Centres) where we think they can find a more suitable job opportunity with their abilities and interests in mind. We would support them in their possible entry process.

Finally, there are students who, after finishing the course, and after having improved in many technical and/or social and work aspects, prefer to resume their studies or even look for a job on their own.
 

FAQ – STUDENT PROFILE

The students of Specialisterne usually have a diagnosis of autism, but there are cases with other conditions within neurodiversity.

A large proportion of the students have the disability certificate. However, there are others who have not requested it or have not fulfilled the criteria for the certificate. In general, if they do, it is usually 33%, but the cases of a higher percentage are not rare.

Specialisterne training lasts only 5 months, so we are looking for people who have a real interest in working. The minimum age to enter the course is 18 years old.

The student must have a certain degree of personal autonomy and, as far as possible, the support of their family environment. The Specialisterne team can also help to gain autonomy using public transport, adjusting to a schedule in the morning, etc.

As for previous training, it is very varied. Some students have not completed high school or a degree, while others have completed some professional training or have started or even finished university studies.

The students, once hired, usually work in two large areas: data and document processing (that is, rather administrative jobs); and software testing and other more advanced and specialized tasks in the IT industry.

Data and document processing jobs are usually highly procedural and quite repetitive. Some examples are the data entry of forms, orders or invoices, the review of contact databases, the inventory and cataloguing of documents, digitization, the editing of large volumes of photos or videos, etc.

Even so, within this area, the projects in which Specialisterne works with are very varied. Some are very repetitive, while others have a lot of variability and require more flexibility. In some cases, the person who performs them has to continuously apply criteria to make decisions, while in others the task is simpler and is not subject to any decision.

In any case, for this type of work, it is useful to have a good command of Windows and Microsoft Office-type applications. In addition, any administrative or office training is of great benefit.

In the software testing area, we distinguish two types of tasks:

  • Execution of tests, in which it is necessary to verify that an application, a website, an app, etc. Works correctly from the user’s point of view.
  • Test definition, test automation, and other more advanced software testing tasks.

Test execution projects are usually quite defined and prepared, and in themselves do not require that the person carrying them out has computer skills beyond that of an advanced user. But you do need a certain motivation for computing science. They also require greater flexibility and the ability to perform tasks that are not fully procedural and detailed.

Regarding the more advanced tasks of software testing, in this case prior training in computer science and a clear motivation for software development are required, as well as a certain creativity. In some cases, students who begin performing test execution tasks progressively train and end up moving on to more advanced tasks.

Some of our students have degrees in computer science, university studies of various types (generally technical careers) or have trained a lot on their own or by combining short courses.

At Specialisterne we seek to take advantage of this training. Thus, we have students who are working on software development projects, computer security and cryptography, mathematical analysis (big data), etc.

 

FAQ – EMPLOYMENT AFTER TRAINING

No, Specialisterne does not guarantee employment upon completion of the course. But the goal of Specialisterne is to train people to incorporate them into the job market, and we want there to be jobs for as many students as possible.

Specialisterne hires students who successfully pass the course when it has a first project with a company in which to place them. That, logically, cannot always be the day after finishing the training, so while that moment arrives, the student is offered the possibility of continuing the final phase of the training (practice) to better prepare. This extension of the training has no cost for the student, and it is also offered to students who we consider are not ready yet but who, with a little more practice, could become so.

 

With some exceptions, the type of contract that Specialisterne offers students – who become consultants – is indefinite.

Also exceptional circumstances –such as medical reasons or those derived from the diagnosis–, the working hours are 40 hours a week.

In the event that the project a consultant is working on finished, Specialisterne relocates that consultant to another project. If there is a waiting period, the consultant continues to work at Specialisterne and dedicates themselves , in the Specialisterne offices, to internal projects and to improve his technical and socio-occupational training.

 In some areas, such as the service industry , there may be job opportunities that are seasonal, and linked to specific periods of the year, or with different schedules.

All Specialisterne consultants are assigned a job coach, with whom they meet every week or every few weeks and who is accessible at all times. The role of this job coach is to support the consultant in any complex situation (such as at the beginning of a new project) and continue their training and guidance in socio-occupational aspects.

 Specialisterne ensures that its consultants can develop a professional career, progressively moving to more complex projects as they are trained and gain experience and confidence, both technically, socially and professionally.

The projects that Specialisterne carries out for its clients are usually of several months or even years, so we can count on a stable environment, without continuous changes. But, as far as possible, we try to ensure that each consultant assumes increasingly complex projects, improving as a professional and, therefore, obtaining a higher salary.