Generation Australia, a non-profit education-to-employment pathways provider, has collaborated with Xceptional — a leader in improving job opportunities for neurodivergent Australians — in an Australian-first pilot programme to establish a talent pipeline for the tech sector.
The programme will upskill neurodivergent Australians in tech jobs while also teaming with employers to develop more accessible work environments for neurodiverse employees.
The partnership was formed as part of a Department of Social Services funding grant provided to Generation Australia to place people with disabilities into professions in the technology sector, starting with its Cloud Practitioner programme and expanding into other courses in the future.
This comes as Australia continues to face a significant shortage of tech expertise. According to Deloitte Access Economics, 156,000 more ICT professionals would be needed by 2025, nearly triple the current demand.
However, Aron Mercer, Chief Growth Officer at Xceptional, claims a talent pipeline has mostly gone untapped by employers.
“The UN estimates that 80 per cent of autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed, and yet we’re seeing critical talent shortages in industries where neurodivergent people thrive, such as technology and finance,” says Mercer.
“This is a significant step towards implementing a sustainable career pathway initiative. Our partnership demonstrates the importance of organisations collaborating at all steps in the education-to-employment pipeline to solve unemployment and underemployment.”
The new normal
According to Mercer, businesses in various industries are beginning to recognise the benefits of having a neurodiverse workforce, but more has to be done to create consistent pipelines of neurodivergent applicants for Australian organisations to overcome significant under-employment.
He adds that changes in workplace practice as a result of lockdowns have affected employees’ attitudes on hiring a neurodivergent candidate.
“The way we work has changed. Organisations were forced to consider how people could work the best overnight. This change has led to some really positive outcomes, like opening up the opportunity for neurodivergent people who can struggle with open-plan offices and daily commutes to communicate through online channels.”
As part of the program, Xceptional will provide consultation and training on how to make
Generation Australia’s courses are more accessible and inclusive and offer additional support services to graduates to assist them in finding employment, including individualised coaching.
Participants in Generation Australia’s Cloud Practitioner programme are upskilled to establish a career in technology with Microsoft Azure certifications. Soft skills training, such as communication, cooperation, and problem-solving, is also included in the programme.
According to Alyssa Owens, Global Curriculum and Instruction Lead (APAC) for Generation Australia, the relationship is a natural match for Generation’s broader mission and raising awareness among employers about how they may offer opportunities for neurodivergent people.
“People living with a disability are a key group Generation aims to support meaningful employment. With Xceptional’s specific knowledge in training and upskilling neurodivergent people and their potential employers alike, we look forward to cementing brilliant pipelines of talent for Australian employers,” she says.
“What we find time and time again is that making education or workplaces more accessible to all individuals, whether based on ability, gender, previous employment or ethnicity, brings benefits for all.”
“We would invite any employer of cloud practitioners in Australia to get in touch to find out more about what they can do to tap into this incredible pipeline of talent,” she concludes.
The pilot’s lessons will be used to increase access to education programmes and job opportunities for neurodivergent people around the world.
With Generation operating in 16 countries worldwide, the pilot might be tested in additional markets such as the United States, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and India.
Applications for the first Cloud Practitioner programme, which is being held in collaboration with Xceptional, are now open.
Participants who are interested in participating can learn more by clicking here: https://australia.generation.org/online/get-into-cloud/