Established in 2014, the DXC Technology Dandelion Program is an initiative designed to build skills and careers for people on the autism spectrum. The original concept was developed by Michael Fieldhouse an executive at DXC. Since its inception, the program has established seven teams in four states and territories across Australia. The program identifies and trains teams of individuals who deliver services to the Australian Government Department of Human Services, Department of Defence, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Social Services, ANZ bank and National Australia Bank. The program's aim is to offer opportunities for people who are on the autism spectrum and harness their skills that will prepare them for future careers.
The DXC Dandelion Program began as an employment program to utilise the skills of people on the autism spectrum in supported work environments. The aim was to increase the participation rate of people with autism in the workforce. It was initially established through a partnership between Hewlett Packard Enterprise (later DXC), the Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) called The Specialist People Initiative. DXC commenced the development of the forward strategy, curriculum and core components to support trainees through their three-year program and renamed it the Dandelion Program in January 2015.
In Australia, the employment participation rate of people on the autism spectrum is 34%, compared to 53% for Australians with disabilities and 60% amongst partner nations of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. DXC’s key to success was to help people build careers in a supported environment instead of simply providing jobs. The Dandelion Program has a 92% retention rate.
There has been much support from around the world for the DXC Dandelion Program, and DXC has identified and involved a variety of partners in the program to assist, including Cornell University, Harvard Business School, Ivey Business School, La Trobe University, University of Queensland, Autism CRC, University of Haifa and Ono Academic College (Israel).
The DXC Dandelion Program has two main programs, the employment program and the work experience program.
The employment program is a three-year structured program designed to provide people with the technical and life skills needed to build and sustain a career. To date, the employment program has employed 76 people from the autism spectrum to work in roles in teams undertaking software testing, cybersecurity, data analytics and automation and monitoring. The program is built upon a practical recruitment and assessment program that identifies people that have the aptitude and motivation to work in the types of roles that DXC's customers require. The practical nature of the assessment program replaces the typical recruitment practices that organisations use and are a barrier to many people on the spectrum. Participants find that given the time and opportunity to practically demonstrate what they can do, how they think and work with others is empowering and a relief when trying to gain employment. The program is currently operating with its customers in Australia in four states and territories, South Australia, Queensland, ACT and Victoria.
When the DXC Dandelion Program was established, there was little research regarding employment of adults on the autism spectrum. As a result, the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University was retained to undertake two three-year longitudinal studies of the effect of the program on the trainees, work colleagues, organisation and families of trainees. The published results of these studies are used as inputs into the ongoing innovation and continuous improvement of the program.
In 2016, the Dandelion Program began to open source the program's intellectual property through Cornell University. The hope is that other organizations would follow in their footsteps and help create a bigger impact and more work opportunities for people on the spectrum. The material is open sourced through the Cornell DigitalCommons platform at https://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/dandelionprogram/
The DXC Dandelion Work Experience Program is a paid work experience program for tertiary students. The goal of the program is to provide higher education students with the opportunity to engage in technical work experience and improve their confidence, technical and teamwork skills, and employability. The program consists of an initial three week structured course that enables participants to learn how software development projects operate in a large commercial organisation, such as DXC, whilst in an autism-friendly environment. DXC Dandelion Work Experience Program
The course involves a balance of learning and practical project work in which participants have the opportunity to be part of an Agile Development team, allowing them to gain experience in different roles in the software development lifecycle using state-of-the-art robotics to assist local primary schools with autism support units with educational development. Building these projects gives the work experience candidates the chance to demonstrate what they can achieve, and how they approach problems and resolve them using the skills and abilities they develop. Candidates who successfully complete the program are favourably considered for future employment opportunities within DXC and partner organisations. Participants are also presented with a certificate and a worker profile document which they can add to their resume for future employment opportunities. DXC Dandelion Work Experience Program
In 2017 and 2018, DXC announced the establishment of neurodiversity hubs with Swinburne University, University of Queensland and Macquarie University. Neurodiversity hubs are focused on improving employability and creating opportunities for neurodiverse students by helping them obtain work experience and internships with DXC and its partner organisations. The hub builds a pipeline of students for neurodiverse-friendly employers and will leverage DXC's expertise in this area to drive research and derive further insights. The intention is to establish at least one neurodiversity hub within each state and territory in Australia.. DXC has engaged its partner Untapped to develop the Neurodiversity Hub strategy in conjunction with Cornell University. Details of the Neurodiversity Hubs are located at http://neurodiversityhub.org
Partnerships with other organisations include: