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In an Australian-first pilot program, non-profit education-to-employment pathways provider Generation Australia has partnered with Xceptional, a leader in improving employment outcomes for neurodivergent Australians, to develop a pipeline of talent for the tech sector.

The program will place neurodivergent Australians into a career in the tech industry, while working with employers to help create more accessible work environments for neurodiverse employees. The partnership has been developed as part of a funding grant from the Department of Social Services awarded to Generation Australia to place people living with a disability into careers in the tech sector, starting with its Cloud Practitioner program and expanding into other courses in the future.

The partnership comes as Australia continues to experience a shortage of talent in the tech industry. Deloitte Access Economics estimate 156,000 more ICT workers are required by 2025, effectively increasing the current demand.

However, Aron Mercer, Chief Growth Officer for Xceptional, says that there is a pipeline of talent that largely hasn’t been tapped by industries that need it most.

“The UN estimates that 80% 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.”

Mercer says that employers across a range of industries are starting to see the benefits of having a neurodiverse workforce, but that more needs to be done in creating steady pipelines of neurodivergent candidates for Australian organisations to overcome significant under-employment.

He adds that the changes to workplace practices as a result of lockdowns has shifted the perspective on employees considering a neurodivergent candidate.

“The way we work has changed. Organisations were forced to consider how people could work 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.”

Xceptional will provide consultation and training on how to make Generation Australia’s courses more accessible and inclusive, as well as offer additional support services to graduates to assist them in finding employment, including individualised coaching.

Generation Australia’s Cloud Practitioner program sees participants upskilled to launch a career in tech with Microsoft Azure qualifications. The program also includes training in soft skills including communication, collaboration and problem solving.

Alyssa Owens, Global Curriculum and Instruction Lead (APAC) for Generation Australia, says that this collaboration is a natural fit for Generation’s broader mission, and that making more employers aware of how they can create opportunities for neurodivergent people will have positive effects for all employees.

“People living with a disability are a key group Generation aims to support into 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.

Lessons learned from the pilot will be used to increase access to education programs and job opportunities for neurodivergent people worldwide. With Generation operating in 16 countries around the globe, the pilot may be trialed in other markets including U.S, Hong Kong, U.K, Singapore and India.

 

Original story found on the Medianet and Xceptional websites respectively. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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