EmployersJune 30, 2020by Mike

Who our training is for – and it might not be who you think

It is often assumed by people that I meet, that our training is for autistic employees rather than employers. In fact, the opposite is true.

This misunderstanding is excusable. In other cases of unemployment, such as veterans or young people, up-skilling is often successful. Yet for the autistic community, they are usually over-skilled. 

Instead, our training is for hiring managers and human resources partners. This blog explores the role of employer training in unlocking the unique strengths of autistic people. 

Why Xceptional provides training

It is often said that autistic people are the largest untapped pool of skilled talent. The UN estimates that 80% of autistic adults worldwide are underemployed or unemployed. Closer to home, in a study by Amaze in conjunction with the Australian National University and Australian Catholic University, 45% of employed autistic respondents said their skills were higher than their current job. 

Autism awareness has hit new heights in recent years. Awareness is a great start, but we help managers move from awareness to a place of confidence. Research tells us that more needs to be done to build autism confidence. A survey of 463 companies (Kaye, Janes and Jones, 2011) found that the principal barriers to employing workers with disabilities was a lack of awareness of disability and accommodation issues, concerns over costs, and fear of legal liability. 

Positive attitudes and messages of acceptance about employing autistic workers (Kaye et al., 2011) have not resulted in a decreased unemployment rate for working-aged autistic people. 

Through our work with both the autistic community and employers, our team recognises that hiring managers and HR business partners also represent a significant untapped pool of change agents. If Xceptional are going to be successful in our mission to create meaningful careers for autistic people, then employers need the tools and support to make different hiring decisions. 


Driven by demand

In starting Xceptional, I was particularly impacted by my sister’s job-seeking journey. I could see there were a lot of organisations wanting to provide her with training; and yet the problem I saw was more often a lack of understanding on the employer’s part. People didn’t quite see her strengths; or know how to bring the best out of her, or how to work within her limitations. 

This theory of mine, that the gap was on the company’s side, was further strengthened as more and more employers asked us to train them. 

One example, early on in Xceptional’s journey, occurred when an engineering executive from Google gave a talk at the Sydney Startup hub. During the Q&A time, I asked what Xceptional could learn from the way Google hires for skills rather than background. 

In response, the speaker explained that companies like Google need help with addressing challenges in the workplace. He said it is one thing to address the hiring front door; you have to also make sure the workplace is ready for people who think differently.


Training through COVID 

In 2018 and 2019, in response to employers’ requests, Xceptional designed a suite of training services, largely delivered in person. Our training workshops have provided managers and staff with the tools to work with autistic individuals and been delivered to employers such as the NSW Government, Schneider Electric, Google Australia and Mable. 

We had encouraging feedback on our workshops. Yet at the back of our minds was the realisation that we needed to make adjustments to deliver training at scale. In the short term we partnered with a UK provider of eLearning to deliver remote training. 

Through the COVID pandemic, organisations across the globe have been forced to innovate towards new ways of working. The pandemic forced a rethink on how Xceptional access candidates through our technology and deliver manager training. Our training suite has evolved rapidly in the past 3 months to be entirely online. This has included the development of a sensory stimulation activity previously delivered during face-to-face workshops.

I am incredibly proud of our team, who during a time of upheaval have surged ahead with the development of our technology. I am also proud that as an organisation who advocates for diversity and inclusion, that 75% of our technology and delivery team is autistic. 


What is involved?

Xceptional’s training equips employers to make the cultural changes required to facilitate inclusive employment of autistic people by up-skilling hiring managers and human resources partners with the capabilities to implement inclusive employment programs for autistic people. 

Training is designed to:

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  • Educate your team to understand, examine and challenge the perception of autism.
  • Provide an insight into living with autism, using an interactive simulation activity and experiencing sensory overload. 
  • Dives into the business advantages of employing a neurodiverse team, and empowers your team to understand the unique skill sets autism can bring to an employer.
  • Equip individuals with practical strategies for working with an autistic person, and explore a series of scenarios where we anticipate workplace situations that may take both employees and managers into the unknown and provide examples of why, what and how to approach each situation.
  • Examine the traditional recruitment process and accommodations, to ensure you can tap into this highly-skilled market.

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About Xceptional 

Xceptional is a leading technology platform that evangelises and harnesses the strengths of autistic people, securing them meaningful technology, engineering and accounting roles within industries including; banking, resources, telecommunications, and startups. If you think your employer would benefit from autism acceptance training, please direct your hiring manager or  human resources partner to enquire here.