Nonprofit sees job training opportunities with Microsoft Power Platform for individuals on the autism spectrum

October 25 2019

Every year approximately 50,000 individuals on the autism spectrum are graduating into the workforce.

“And it’s everywhere,” says Margie Gray, employment services director, Mind Shift, a Fargo, North Dakota-based non-profit organization that recruits, assesses, trains and employs highly skilled and motivated people on the autism spectrum. “We probably have people on the spectrum in every city, country and town in the world.”

MSDW spoke with Gray about her organization and its involvement with Microsoft technology at the recent Dynamics Communities User Group Summit in Orlando, where they were invited to tell their story and connect with attendees.

Mind Shift, which was founded by a group of interested parents and businesspeople with connection to the autism spectrum, opened its first office in Fargo in 2014. It now has three other offices, two in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin. In her role, Gray works to place job candidates with employers and then supports the specialists, as the job candidates are called, as well as the employers.

From the beginning, the group’s mission was to take the talents of the individuals on the autism spectrum and put those talents into the world of work in a way that was meaningful for the businesses and the individuals, Gray says.

Some of these specialists are doing software testing, data analytics, and programming as well as more manufacturing-type tasks, she says. Individuals on the spectrum are as varied as any other population –some do a lot better working with their hands and work in assembly-type environments. In her role, Gray works to place job candidates with employers and then supports both the employees and the employers.

Recently, Mind Shift started training some of its job candidates on Power BI and Microsoft Flow and the organization is now finding jobs for some of them working with the technology.

“We see the value of what Microsoft products are creating in general in the world of technology,” Gray says. “We recognized a need for the use of Power BI and Microsoft Flow. We have a team in Milwaukee that has been trained on Power BI and we look at them as sort of a SWAT team.”

About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. Rosencrance has over 25 years experience as an reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years.

She has covered a variety of IT subjects, including Microsoft Dynamics, mobile security issues such as data loss prevention, network management, secure mobile app development, privacy, cloud computing, BI, big data, analytics, HR, CRM, ERP, and enterprise IT.

Rosencrance is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.

More about Linda Rosencrance