The Autism@Work Forum, held recently in Sydney, was the first of its kind in Australia. Let’s hope it marks a step change in the employment of people with autism and wider recognition of the strengths they bring to the workplace.
At the Forum, several companies presented on their employment programs for people with autism and the benefits they have seen to their businesses.
The slide above is part of a presentation by Michael Fieldhouse, Director, Emerging Businesses & Cyber Security and Dandelion Program Executive at DXC.Technology.
DXC.Technology is a leader in the field here in Australia. The DXC Dandelion Work Experience Program is a paid work experience program for tertiary students. There is an initial four week structured course which can lead to permanent employment.
DXC.Technology now has five teams in three states and employs 58 people on the spectrum in cyber security, data analytics and software testing.
Michael’s slide illustrates eloquently the positive experiences DXC has had and the the strengths of their workers when supported well.
SunPork Farms runs the Autism and Agriculture project together with the AutismCRC and Specialiststerne Australia. Dr Robert van Barneveld is CEO and Managing Director of the SunPork Group and he said:
‘It did actually change the culture, it took on its own living breathing culture. It’s been good progress.
Everybody could see the cultural benefits to the organisation and it moved quickly.’
Michael John Carley presented on ‘New Trends in Large Businesses Hiring High Potential Employees with Non-Apparent Disabilities . . . and the Reality Check.’
Michael explained that in 2010 a survey of 411 Fortune 5000 employees were asked about their experiences of employees with disabilities. One-third perceived disabled employees as more dedicated and less likely to leave the job.
That’s an important finding he said, employers are always keen to reduce staff turnover.
Michael also showed this slide showing the strengths of NAD ( Non-Apparent Disabilities) workers.
Dr Marita Falkmer, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Curtin University, presented on the IEST (Integrated Autism Success Tool), which is being developed to aid employers and people with autism.
Her slide on research with companies showing employee characteristics is also heartening.
SAP, ANZ Bank, and Microsoft also presented on their current and future employment programs.
Workforce neurodiversity is being seen as a real advantage, for employers as much as employees. These companies are leading the way, and at a quick pace too.
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