Conference Spotlight: PPL Effort Focuses on Candidates With Autism

This article was featured on the NACE website. With permission, a portion of the article has been posted below. For the complete story, please follow the link included in the story.

For industries such as utilities that are facing a shrinking well of talented, skilled workers, adults with autism could offer sought-after skills in a grossly untapped talent pool, explains Kristie Maciolek Small, director—inclusion, diversity, and talent management at PPL.

“Individuals with autism bring unique characteristics to a team,” Maciolek Small explains.

“They may look at life through a different lens, bringing a fresh perspective, or excel at finding new algorithms to solve complex issues. They can exceed performance expectations in many roles, but they need to know what opportunities are out there and employers need to know how to support them.”

This year, PPL launched a day-in-the-life career initiative that provides an opportunity for college students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to learn about jobs and interact with employees in a safe environment.

“We partnered with local universities and colleges that already provide enhanced support services to students on the autism spectrum,” Maciolek Small says.

Employees in REACH, PPL’s employee-led business resource group, helped execute the event. REACH focuses on identifying the needs of differently abled employees, and providing resources to improve the effectiveness and well-being of those employees, their friends, families, and the communities.

The first event was held in March. PPL hosted 12 Kutztown University students with ASD and five faculty members to show them “life at PPL beyond the poles and wires.”

The day-in-the-life event included a panel discussion with PPL employees, a drone overview, a virtual reality substation demonstration, and a tour of the distribution and transmission control centers. The students engaged with PPL employees during the panel discussion, asking questions about the company and the REACH business resource group.

“PPL is using the event as a model for future engagements to help recruit people who identify as having a disability,” explains Brian Case, PPL’s manager—corporate talent management, who is a member of the NACE Inclusion Committee.

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