NAB is using DXC Technology’s Dandelion program to train people on the autism spectrum for cybersecurity careers.
Dandelion is DXC Technology’s flagship social impact program, resulting in the employment of 100-plus people on the autism spectrum directly.
In addition, the program has seen over 20 people employed as technical and support leads at other organisations, including ‘Big 4’ banks NAB and ANZ, as well as the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Social Services (DSS).
NAB has its own Neurodiversity at Work program, which it has worked closely with DXC to create and run.
“DXC consulted extensively with various NAB executive members on ideation and design thinking, before collaborating to create a new model to suit its specific Neurodiversity at Work program needs, which included the DXC Dandelion structure, team capability and knowhow,” DXC said.
“The program’s existing practical and comprehensive framework was embedded into NAB’s business before talented individuals were recruited.”
The assessment program was completed by 12 candidates in 2019, who were supported by two DXC agile coaches and a dedicated DXC autism spectrum consultant.
The three-week program introduced candidates to cybersecurity and embedded them in a real IT software development project, exposing them to Agile and modern software development techniques.
“Throughout this process, DXC leads were able to observe participants’ strengths and capabilities, motivation, ability to integrate into an office environment, teamwork and any individual support needs they may require,” DXC said.
Out of this process, six individuals were selected in May last year to begin cybersecurity careers at NAB.
Onboarding the team
NAB and DXC jointly ran an organisational change program focused on autism awareness training for managers and co-workers prior to the new team coming onboard.
“The new team was introduced to NAB through a structured induction process with members successfully integrating into the NAB culture and working environment,” DXC said.
“Since implementation, the team has made significant contributions to supporting the Identity and Access Management Team to achieve key targets, and improve service to NAB employees and customers by provisioning and fulfilling critical applications with high accuracy and speed.”
DXC said the program had been well-received by NAB employees and the candidates involved.
More broadly, DXC said that the Dandelion Program had a 92 percent retention rate, meaning that all participating organisations retained the autistic resources on their programs of work.
But, in a sign of Dandelion’s success and impact, DXC noted the size of teams - and therefore the number of people on the spectrum that gain employment - is usually increased by between 50 and 100 percent after the initial intake.
DXC said its vision is to build valuable IT and executive functioning skills to help people on the spectrum to establish successful technology sector careers.
“Half those diagnosed [as being on the spectrum] have above-average intelligence and possess skills that make them ideal for certain roles in the technology sector where critical shortages currently exist.
“These skills include visual perception, problem-solving, attention to detail, extraordinary focus, strong recall of facts and figures, and capacity to learn quickly,” it said.
Though NAB had an existing strong diversity culture, traditional recruiting processes and lack of formal support mechanisms made it difficult to recruit and retain employees on the spectrum.
“By leveraging DXC’s established proven framework to support recruitment of quality technical people to join their cyber security branch, NAB was able to ensure immediate success,” DXC added.