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 industrySeelan Nayagam, DXC Technology \nDXC Technologyhas launched in New Zealand the Dandelion Program which helps people on the autism spectrum build technology careers.\n\u201cThe 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,\u201d says Seelan Nayagam, managing director, DXC Technology Australia and New Zealand. \n\u201cThe programme not only assists people in developing technical skills, but also their executive functioning and life skills to help them achieve sustainable employment.\u201d\nThe programme currently employs over 80 people in Australia and provides leading research on autism in the workplace.\nDandelion 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.\nDiversity as a business strategy: How tech firms can take the lead in hiring differently-abled staff\nThe DXC Dandelion Program also provides successful transition into open and competitive employment once an employee has completed the programme.\nDXC says at least three of seven individuals who have formally left the program have been able to secure independent employment.\nAll 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.\nOver 240 organisations across 71 countries have now shown an interest in the DXC Dandelion Programme.\n\u201cAutism New Zealand is delighted to be working with DXC Technology on what, internationally, is already proven to be a successful programme,\u201d says Dane Dougan, chief executive officer, Autism New Zealand. \u201cIt 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.\u201d\n\u2018Differently-abled\u2019 ICT staff: How to fit these great people in your workplace\nDXC hosted its first Autism@Work executive forum in Auckland last week.\nTo 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 partnersto help advocate for the employment of people on the autism spectrum.\nNo caption\nSince 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.\nOrganisations are recognising the importance of integrating people with autism into the workforce and the competitive advantages that a neurodiverse workforce brings, says DXC.\n\u201cThis 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,\u201d says Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, director, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University\nThe 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.\nAutism@Work\nLast month, La Trobe University study released its preliminary findings on the programme, which analysed the mental health and wellbeing of 35 Dandelion participants.\nProfessor Dissanayake says the results of the first year of the three-year pilot programme are very encouraging.\n\u201cJob retention is at 89 per cent and job satisfaction is at 75 per cent overall for the employees surveyed,\u201d says Dissanayake.\n\u201cThis result is important because we know how difficult it can be for many individuals with autism to face finding and maintaining employment.\nIn 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.\n\u201cThe 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.\u201d\nThe findings also showed the mental health and wellbeing of Dandelion employees remained stable.\n\u201cThis 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,\u201d says Michael Fieldhouse, DXC Dandelion Program Executive.\n\u201cWe 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.\u201d\nNo caption\nSend news tips and comments to email@example.com\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.