From education to employment

UK National Autistic Society Developing a Cybersecurity and IT Centre with DXC Technology #WorldAutismAwarenessDay

DXC Technology, the world’s leading independent, end-to-end IT services company, is promoting neurodiversity in the workplace through a specialist centre which is being developed to help autistic people in the UK pursue digital, IT and cybersecurity careers through supported internships with leading employers in the industry.

The centre, which will be run by the National Autistic Society, is based on a successful employment model (the DXC Dandelion Programme) introduced in Australia by DXC Technology, and Untapped Group, the strategic partner  managing the attraction, sourcing and supporting of neurodiverse talent.

The National Autistic Society is looking to build partnerships with employers in cybersecurity, with a view to opening the centre in autumn 2019.

The programme will be run from the charity’s Enterprise Campus in Essex, which also houses a specialist school for children on the autism spectrum, an assessment and diagnostic service and, in the near future, a variety of training and employment projects.

The new cybersecurity and IT centre will provide opportunities for autistic people to obtain cybersecurity training and internships.

The centre will leverage the knowledge of the successful DXC Dandelion Programme, which has collaborations globally and is used by some Australian banks and the Australian Department of Defence to attract, recruit, hire and retain people on the spectrum for cybersecurity roles.

The National Autistic Society is working with DXC and Untapped Group to adapt the DXC Dandelion Programme model for the UK. Established in 2013, the Dandelion Programme employs over 100 people in Australia and is the basis for leading research on autism in the workplace. Over 290 organisations across 77 countries have downloaded the Dandelion Programme materials which are open-sourced globally via Cornell University. 

Michael Fieldhouse, director, Social Impact Practice leader and Dandelion Programme executive at DXC, said:

“It is a great honour to be part of creating this cybersecurity and IT centre focused on assisting autistic people in obtaining training and employment with growing demand industries.

“DXC already leverages the talents of autistic people in cybersecurity for the Australian government’s Department of Defence and for banks. The partnership enables us to bring knowledge from the DXC Dandelion Programme to scale, thus increasing the social impact to organisations in the United Kingdom.

“We will be leveraging our global relationships with Symantec, Splunk and Untapped to assist with training, assessment and on-going support. The centre will also enable employers to understand and learn what is required for sustainable employment for autistic people. This has been a critical mind shift from just thinking about jobs to focusing on careers.”

Emma Kearns, the National Autistic Society’s employment training manager, said:

“A growing number of employers are recognising autistic people’s potential.

“Yet our charity’s research shows just 16 per cent of autistic people are in full-time paid work – and many of them are in jobs below their skill level. This is a huge waste of talent at a time when there’s a big skills shortage, particularly in the cybersecurity industry.

“We’re committed to changing this through campaigning and working with organisations such as DXC Technology and the Untapped Group to develop opportunities like this new programme. It is based on a tried and tested model in Australia so we’re really excited to get working on introducing it in England – and to develop relationships with universities and employers in the cybersecurity industry.

“The key thing for us is that we’re not just preparing the autistic candidates for work, we’re also working with employers to make sure they understand autism and introduce the right support and adjustments.

“It’s important to remember every autistic person has different skills, interests and support needs, and that some people aren’t able to work at all. We’re targeting those autistic adults with a real interest in all things digital here, but we’re also looking to introduce employment opportunities for other industries in the coming months and years.

“Autistic people have so much to give – but employers have to give them a chance.”

Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

Autism is a spectrum condition. This means autistic people have their own strengths and varying needs, from 24-hour care to simply needing clearer communication and a little longer to do things at work and school.

Although everyone is different, people on the autism spectrum may:

  • Be under- or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely difficult
  • Find social situations and change a challenge, sometimes leading to extreme levels of anxiety
  • Experience a “meltdown” if overwhelmed by anxiety or sensory overload
  • Benefit from extra time to process and respond to communication.
  • Without the right support or understanding, autistic people can miss out on an education, struggle to find work and become extremely isolated.

About DXC TechnologyAs the world’s leading independent, end-to-end IT services company, DXC Technology (NYSE: DXC) leads digital transformations for clients by modernising and integrating their mainstream IT, and by deploying digital solutions at scale to produce better business outcomes. The company’s technology independence, global talent, and extensive partner network enable 6,000 private and public-sector clients in 70 countries to thrive on change. DXC is a recognised leader in corporate responsibility. 

About The National Autistic SocietyThe UK’s leading charity for autistic people. We are here to transform lives, change attitudes and create a society that works for autistic people. Since 1962, we have been campaigning for autistic people’s rights and providing support and advice to autistic people and their families. 

About Untapped GroupA social enterprise focused on developing a neurodiverse employment ecosystem to increase opportunities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other neurodiverse variations thereby realising their untapped potential. Part of this is the Neurodiversity Hub initiative – developing a co-curricular programme designed to help students become more work ready and increase their chances of securing a job and a career. It is also about partnering with employers to assist them in developing their neurodiverse employment programmes. 

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