We’re delighted to announce plans to develop a supported internship programme, to help autistic people interested in digital, IT and cybersecurity careers.

The programme, which will be run from our Enterprise Campus in Essex, is based on a successful employment model (the DXC Dandelion Programme) introduced in Australia by DXC Technology, and the Untapped Group. We are working with DXC and the Untapped Group to re-develop the programme for the UK. We’re still in the early stages of development and are hoping to start building partnerships with UK employers in the industry, with a view to launching the programme in autumn 2019.

The Dandelion Programme, which was established in 2013, employs over 100 people in Australia and is the basis for much 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.

Emma Kearns, our Employment Training Manager, said: “A growing number of employers are recognizing autistic people's potential.

“Yet our charity’s research shows just 16% 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 cyber security 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 industry.

"The model means that we're not just preparing 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 that 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.

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.”

Further information

Information and advice for employers

Information and advice for autistic jobseekers