With the planned expansion, the Australian-owned, integrated pork production enterprise SunPork Farms, which commenced its Autism and Agriculture program in 2017 with 12 employees, is aiming to further develop career paths in animal care roles for people on the autism spectrum.
As a result of the initiative’s initial success, the organisation is now planning to expand it and build capacity within the agricultural sector to employ more autistic people in Australia where only about 40% of autistic adults have jobs.
“We know adults on the spectrum have key strengths that have the potential to enhance the human resource capability of agriculture. As we embark on this program, we value the learnings, experience and support of DXC, SAP and Untapped who have advanced programs to help individuals on the spectrum,” said Dr Robert van Barneveld, CEO and managing director, SunPork Group.
DXC Technology, SAP and Untapped say they are uniquely positioned to help SunPork Farms navigate the challenges of scaling and sustainability as the organisation expands its Autism and Agriculture program.
“DXC’s collaboration with SAP, Untapped and SunPork allows us to build on the experience and knowledge DXC have gained whilst establishing careers for people on the autism spectrum within the IT industry, for the benefit of the agricultural industry,” said Michael Fieldhouse, Social Impact Practice leader, DXC Technology.
“We are proud to work alongside other progressive organisations that share our vision of making a difference for people on the spectrum, through helping them obtain work, developing the necessary skills to build careers in the industry, and achieve sustainable employment.”
“DXC Technology and SAP have some of the largest and most mature workplace programs for people with autism. These programs incorporate unique technology and training that Untapped has sourced and been involved in developing, with its partners, to support autistic people in the workplace.”
The SAP Autism at Work program and the DXC Dandelion Program together employ more than 250 people. The DXC Dandelion Program has also created global collaborations with expertise in autism and employment at Stanford University, Cornell University, the Israel Defence Forces, the University of Haifa, and locally at La Trobe University.
“The DXC Dandelion program provides autistic employees with opportunities to develop their social relationships and networks, to learn technical skills that will serve them well in future employment and, possibly most importantly, access to a world of work that they might otherwise have been precluded from,” said Darren Hedley, PhD, research fellow, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre.
“Much of this success is due to the novel approach by DXC which turns traditional recruitment methods upside down, and to the dedicated work of the support team which includes supervisors and managers who are empathetic to the employee’s needs.
“And as our research has shown, the autism consultants who, in addition to ensuring the program runs smoothly, are able to rapidly intervene with skill and expertise when required to do so.”