In September 2014, “The Dandelion Program” was initiated as a collaboration between the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Australia and Specialisterne Australia. The program was so successful, that it is now being extended, covering more fields of operation.
The Dandelion program is HPE’s five-week selection, assessment and on-boarding program for hiring people with autism. The individual’s strengths and talents are assessed in order to understand them and put into a work context. The assessment program is a different way of doing job interviews, because you actually get to see people put their skills to work. After completing the on-boarding process the candidates who fit the job profile is hired by HPE. In 2015 the Dandelion program won the Asia Pacific Autism Award in Brisbane for outstanding service to the field of Autism.
The Dandelion program also includes an innovative support model created by HPE. The support model ensures that the employees get the necessary support after being hired. Larger groups of employees with autism will get their day-today support from non-autistic staff members with IT expertise. The non-autistic staff will be trained in understanding autism and how to utilise the skills possessed by an autistic employee. Furthermore, each team will have an autism specialist that can provide ongoing support in the workplace.
The support model ensures that everybody involved in the Dandelion program are comfortable in the work place and create an environment where people can excel.
For the first time in the world, the Dandelion program has been extended to include cyber security jobs within the Australian Department of Defence. Initially, successful applicants were hired in trainee positions as Cyber Security Analysts. The program includes training in the key skills needed to work in the Department of Defence Cyber Security Team. The role of a Cyber Security Analyst tasks varies from simple to medium and complex data analysis and over time, they will be trained in performing more and more complex cyber security tasks.
The Dandelion Program’s pilot project was with the Department of Human Service (DHS) in Adelaide. The candidates for this program have been hired as software testers within DHS. HPE’s support model was developed and adjusted for the first round of candidates. The program has been expanded and now includes Brisbane and Canberra.
At the UN World Autism Awareness Day 1 April 2016, HPE, SAP and Specialisterne presented a letter of collaboration signed by all parties. This partnership is a strong commitment to work together and enable the one million jobs for people with autism. This collaboration has five focus areas:
1. Creation of information assets that will help raise awareness of the value of Neurodiversity in the workplace
2. Collaborate in the creation of cross-company common training curriculums to hire and retain autistic people.
3. Exchange experiences in the areas of sourcing, training, hiring, work experience programs and retaining individuals in the autism spectrum.
4. Investigate other barriers to employment for autistic people such as industry accreditation courses
5. Participate in information sharing sessions at the World Economic Forum, Davos, UN events and at annual summit for employers, governments and community groups.