24 April 2018

University students with a range of neurodiverse traits will be able to boost their employability through a new work experience program that helps them breakdown barriers, gain skills, and make vital connections.

The Dandelion Work Experience Program is being offered through the Neurodiversity Hub at The University of Queensland, which was established in partnership with DXC Technology in 2017 to support students with diverse needs.

Director of Student Employability Dr Dino Willox said the work experience program will help students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to overcome roadblocks and showcase their skills.

“These internship opportunities will not only boost their confidence, but also connect them with employers and improve their employment potential after graduation,” Dr Willox said.

“The traditional recruitment process can be challenging for neurodiverse people, however through work experience these students will be able to develop and demonstrate their professional workplace skills.

“It’s important for UQ to work in partnership with industry and employers to provide a range of opportunities that meet the needs of all of our students, enabling all students to achieve their full potential through experiential as well as academic learning.”

The paid work experience program will place students in an environment that recognises their skills and needs in a large commercial organisation for three weeks.

DXC Technology managing director Seelen Nayagam said the program would help university students with autism obtain industry work experience and improve a range of skills while enhancing their employability.

“During the program, participants will be involved in a real project that combines the use of robotics with commercial IT industry to create methods to help primary school students who are on the autism spectrum with educational and engagement development,” Mr Nayagam said.

“The Neurodiversity Hub at UQ and the work experience program build hope for students on the spectrum and their families that they can improve career choices.”

Neurodiversity refers to a range of individual brain functions and behavioural traits, regarded as part of the normal variation in the human population, including autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

For more information, visit UQ's Neurodiversity Hub webpage here

 Media: Dr Dino Willox, Director of the Student Employability Centre; d.willox@uq.edu.au, +7 3346 7012.