Many people who are neurodiverse, and are on the autism spectrum, possess a range of unique skills that are in high demand within organisations — high analytical ability, technical skills, perseverance and attention to detail. But typical recruitment — formal interviews and psychometric assessments — make it challenging for people with autism to find suitable employment.
Recognising the untapped potential of this talent pool, Transport for NSW, along with the NSW Public Service Commission, in partnership with Specialisterne Australia, launched a first of its kind program within the NSW Public Service, “Tailored Talent.” The program flips the traditional recruitment process on its head — allowing candidates to demonstrate their capabilities through a series of role-related workshop activities and informal interactions with hiring teams.
Of the 15 neurodiverse or autistic candidates on the 2020 pilot, nine were placed within Transport, with all nine maintaining ongoing employment within Transport post the 12-month duration of the program (100% retention rate).
The program allowed for the candidates to demonstrate their skills and capacity over time. The design of the program included a targeted internal employer education program, ensuring Transport could offer an inclusive supportive and thriving workplace that acknowledges and understands diversity, embracing the difference and working styles, of autistic people. The alternative approach to hiring coupled with the organisational commitment to education and providing an inclusive and supportive workplace ensured the new employees were able to demonstrate their highly employable skills and abilities, and also performed over and above the original expectations of their initial roles.