The launch of the DXC Dandelion Programme in New Zealand is critical given the constant evolution, change and demand for new talent in the IT industry
DXC Technology has launched in New Zealand the Dandelion Program which helps people on the autism spectrum build technology careers.
“The launch of the DXC Dandelion Programme in New Zealand is critical given the constant evolution, change and demand for new talent in the IT industry,” says Seelan Nayagam, managing director, DXC Technology Australia and New Zealand.
“The programme not only assists people in developing technical skills, but also their executive functioning and life skills to help them achieve sustainable employment.”
The programme currently employs over 80 people in Australia and provides leading research on autism in the workplace.
Dandelion employees work in cybesecurity, data analytics, software testing and systems monitoring and automation at the Department of Defence, Department of Human Services, Department of Home Affairs and ANZ bank across four states in Australia, with access to an autism consultant at each work site.
The DXC Dandelion Program also provides successful transition into open and competitive employment once an employee has completed the programme.
DXC says at least three of seven individuals who have formally left the program have been able to secure independent employment.
All Dandelion employees are initially placed with these organisations, who provide funding for the programme, before being supported to find long-term work, independent of the program.
Over 240 organisations across 71 countries have now shown an interest in the DXC Dandelion Programme.
“Autism New Zealand is delighted to be working with DXC Technology on what, internationally, is already proven to be a successful programme,” says Dane Dougan, chief executive officer, Autism New Zealand. “It also expands on the work we currently do in assisting the autism community into suitable employment. The potential of this programme in New Zealand is exciting and we look forward to the future.”
DXC hosted its first Autism@Work executive forum in Auckland last week.
To ensure the programme continues to gain momentum, DXC says it will also be holding Autism@Work summits and executive forums in New Zealand with its partners to help advocate for the employment of people on the autism spectrum.
Since the pilot programme in Adelaide in 2015, DXC Dandelion Programme teams have been working with clients in areas such as software testing, analytics, IT operations and cyber security.
Organisations are recognising the importance of integrating people with autism into the workforce and the competitive advantages that a neurodiverse workforce brings, says DXC.
“This programme is unique because it addresses the problem of employment for people with an autism spectrum disorder, not simply by pushing harder the peg into the square hole, but instead by addressing the supports needed on both ends,” says Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, director, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University
The DXC Dandelion Programme is part of the DXC Social Impact Practice, which develops and runs programmes that benefit individuals and society in areas including neurodiversity, veterans, disability, indigenous employment and climate change.
Last month, La Trobe University study released its preliminary findings on the programme, which analysed the mental health and wellbeing of 35 Dandelion participants.
Professor Dissanayake says the results of the first year of the three-year pilot programme are very encouraging.
“Job retention is at 89 per cent and job satisfaction is at 75 per cent overall for the employees surveyed,” says Dissanayake.
“This result is important because we know how difficult it can be for many individuals with autism to face finding and maintaining employment.
In Australia, people with autism have a 34 per cent employment participation rate and over 50 per cent are unemployed. Worldwide, 80 per cent of people with autism are unemployed or underemployed.
“The benefit of the program is that they are being matched with jobs that meet their skills and are supported in building meaningful, long-term careers.”
The findings also showed the mental health and wellbeing of Dandelion employees remained stable.
“This ground breaking research supported by our partners, the Australian Government Department of Human Services and Department of Defence, is critical to understanding the challenges and enablers to ensure successful and sustainable employment for people on the autism spectrum,” says Michael Fieldhouse, DXC Dandelion Program Executive.
“We hope this research filters into human resource management education to improve inclusiveness of workforces and allows for other autism at work programmes and employment models to be developed.”
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