Profile: NSW Public Service & Specialisterne Australia, Tailored Talent Program, 2021/2022 TechDiversity Award winner

Awarded as the TechDiversity Award winner in the Government Category at the 2021/2022 TechDiversity Awards.  NSW Government partnered with Specialisterne Australia to provide an inclusive pathway into the public service sector for adults on the autism spectrum.

By working with Specialisterne Australia to disrupt the recruitment process and build capacity across their agencies, they have successfully built autism-friendly workplaces that enable autistic and neurodivergent employees to not only thrive, but to succeed, be valued, understood and accepted, and in turn make a difference.

Julie Robertson, CEO, Specialisterne at the TechDiversity Awards 2021/2022 accepting her teams win in the video below.


The Program – Tailored Talent program

A program that disrupted traditional recruitment practices and matched autistic people with roles within NSW Government.  The program is currently across 17 agencies across NSW Public Service. It’s a program that looks at talent differently and they are now moving onto a second phase where they are looking at inclusive pathways not for jobs in tech but other non-tech rules such as project management.

The program was led by a dedicated team who included: 

  • Gail LeBranksey- At the time Gail was employed on secondment at the NSW Public Service as Director, Disability Employment
  • Amy Summut- People Partner, Transport NSW
  • Kate Halpin, Specialisterne Australia Program Lead

Key to the program was having a holistic solution, which included training and enablement of participating agencies, to imbed inclusive practices within the wider organisation and enabling the long-term success of the initiative.

Autistic employees are 92% more productive and 48% faster than non-autistic employees
(JP Morgan Chase, 2016).

The Challenge

High unemployment rate: The unemployment rate of autistic adults in Australia is six times higher than the general unemployment rate, and more than
three times the rate of unemployment for people with a disability at 59.2%. Unfortunately, highly talented, educated and
work-ready, autistic individuals are not gaining meaningful employment due to traditional recruitment processes and the
barriers they create.

Address skills shortage: In NSW there is a skills shortage in cybersecurity, data analytics and other STEM-based roles requiring skills that autistic
people have a natural aptitude for. Research shows that people on the spectrum can have higher than average abilities in
areas such as pattern recognition, memory, analysis and mathematics, and are more productive and efficient than their nonautistic

COVID set backs: The program experienced some set-backs due to COVID which unfolded in Australia just as the program was commencing. As
a result, some agencies delayed participation or could no longer participate due to other demands, and the whole program had to be redesigned, moving from in-person to online within a week. Despite this, the program completed on time and in budget exceeding all expectations.

The Reward

As part of this pilot program the successfully;

  • placed 14 candidates into meaningful employment and have trained more than
    300+ staff in understanding autism and building capacity in relation to autism inclusive workplaces.
  • As the successful approached 12 months of employment all 14 are still successfully employed, with the majority receiving
    contract extensions or permanent roles and in several instances internal promotions.
  • They are seeing more females across the team
  • Specialisterne Australia delivers neurodiversity hiring programs. They have designed a non-traditional recruitment strategy that supports neurodivergent candidates to showcase their skills. This alternative method removes barriers for the candidate but enables the employer to see the breadth of their capabilities

The ongoing commitment to diversity

An initiative that was commissioned by NSW Government called #come as you are, and is as impactful today as it was when Specialisterne first engaged in the program. Evolving workplace practices, culture and recruitment are necessary for adapting to our changing populations and environments. These episodes highlight the importance of neurodiversity in the workplace and provide insight into Specialisterne Australia’s why. Specialisterne hopes other organisations are inspired by the NSW Government’s Tailored Talent Program and adopt similar approaches – tapping into the neurodiversity advantage and providing everlasting impact to both neurodiverse individuals and organisations

Specalisterne have created a wonderful series of real stories, from real people that have had a real impact – click here to watch.

Commission director of disability employment Gail Le Bransky, said recruiting neurodiverse talents is part of the state’s commitment to foster a diverse public sector cohort.

“Not only is this about driving an inclusive and diverse workforce, but we also know that tapping into the unique talents of people on the autism spectrum can bring about real business benefits, as well as contributing positively to our culture,” she said. (Source: The Mandarin)


Like this? Read More…

Let's hear from you

We love hearing from our community and what topics YOU think are important.