Genius Armoury – developed by Untapped Holdings with BHP, DXC Australia, Splunk, La Trobe University and Curtin University – is intended to help tackle part of Australia's cyber security skills shortage.
The $15 million, three-year initiative (partially funded by AustCyber's projects fund) is designed to help the Australian cyber security industry grow, while reducing unemployment among autistic people.
The unemployment rate for autistic individuals is 31.6%, according to Amaze – three times the rate for people with a disability, and almost six times the rate for people without a disability.
Untapped Holdings points out that some autists possess traits that are extremely useful in cyber security roles including attention to detail, the ability to focus for long periods and identify patterns, photographic memory, integrity and honesty.
Hence Genius Armoury, which – according to Untapped CEO Andrew Eddy – provides autists who have little or no prior knowledge of cyber security with a syllabus of fundamental learning.
"The materials are provided in an accessible, inspirational and engaging format intended to ignite interest and the pursuit of further learning. Delivered via a virtual, asynchronous platform, the materials can be undertaken by participants at any time, even in remote locations," he said.
"The Genius Armoury concept came from the realisation, through autism employment assessment workshops, that autists considering educational options and career paths have little understanding of the opportunities of a cyber security career.
"When explained, there was often a high level of interest in the type of work undertaken in these roles. This generated the idea of providing an autism-friendly, deep-dive learning experience into the world of a cyber security analyst to spark interest amongst this cohort."
Genius Armoury comprises five modules: Introduction to cyber security; Threats and exploits; Networks; Digital forensics; and Cyber security tools.
Participants receive a certificate on completion, and information is offered about education and employment options.
AustCyber CEO Michelle Price said "Genius Armoury is a world leading and innovative solution for inclusion and diversity in the cyber security workforce and will benefit all sectors of the economy more broadly.
"If we can better support autistic individuals to find jobs that take advantage of their often-unique set of skills in cyber security, we are taking another step to meet the current skills shortage with a pool of currently untapped talent. Perhaps more importantly, the day to day of cyber security offers highly productive and challenging work – and employers are increasingly aware of the workplace environment that will attract and retain autists as part of a more sophisticated approach to workforce strategy and development."
Genius Armoury wants to engage with additional educational institutions and employers.