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Following on from the global success of the IGNITE Autism Spectrum Disorder Program in the USA, IBM partnered with Specialisterne Australia to run the IBM Neurodiversity Program at the Client Innovation Centre in Ballarat, Victoria in March 2019.

There was a high level of interest across Australia resulting in over 50 applications. The applicants were shortlisted to 33 who were invited to attend a pre-selection workshop where candidate’s skills were assessed with various hands on activities including a pre-selection activity created and administered by IBM. Each candidate’s skillset was assessed by Specialisterne throughout observations of each candidate’s technical abilities using the LEGOMindstorm robotics kits. From the 33 candidates, 16 were selected to attend the 4-week training and assessment program.

Prior to the program commencing, Specialisterne worked with IBM to build the organisations capacity and confidence through a series of autism specific training and awareness programs. These programs included several general autism awareness training sessions and tailored leadership training for the hiring managers.

Weeks one to three of the Training and Assessment Program comprised of weekly challenges and IBM lead activities that mimicked tasks in the workplace. The fourth week comprised of the “Day in the Life” work experience allowing candidates to shadow IBM employees throughout the differing businesses of the organisation. The challenges, IBM lead activities and “Day in the life” experience provided the candidates with a solid understanding of what it would be like to work as part of the IBM team whilst also providing the IBM team with insight into the technical skills, suitability and individual needs of each candidate.

The 4-week training and assessment program allowed IBM to adapt their existing hiring processes for autistic individuals in order to create opportunities for them to demonstrate and showcase their skills that they would otherwise be unable to do in a traditional interview setting. The process also provided candidates with an opportunity to learn about different IBM processes and programming languages in a patient, supportive and enjoyable

environment, offering them the optimum chance for success.

“Amazing talent was sourced very suitable to our roles” – IBM Employee

“The end of week presentations provided us information in regards to each candidates skills and capabilities.” – IBM Employee

“Lots of fun and facilitated lots of growth, plus meeting other people on the spectrum was amazing.” - Candidate

“The coding and programming aspect highlights our skills in highly relevant roles within IBM.” - Candidate

“The week 1&2 tasks let me stretch my creativity, design & problem solving skills, as well as my best trait which is how quickly I can learn.” – Candidate

The ten successful candidates commence employment from the 1st of July 2019.

IBM Australia rolls out neurodiversity program,

ABC News

The program is the first of its kind for IBM Australia, though the company will roll it out in Canada, Japan, Brazil and Argentina this year after launching in the United States in 2017. See the full article here.


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