Please indicate if your Initiative is an Established Initiative.
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Kym Vassiliou (EPIC Assist),
Dr Lee Hawkins (trainer and creator),
Paul Seaman (trainer and creator),
Michelle Playfair (trainer assistant),
Craig Thompson (EPIC Assist support)
Mikaela Koia, ANZ (venue sponsorship)
Emily Williams, ANZ (venue coordinator)
Corporate Account Manager
Paul Seaman and Lee Hawkins
Trainer and Creator
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
A program providing a free introductory software testing course for neuro-diverse adults by EPIC Assist, a Disability Employment Service.
The course was facilitated by 2 leading industry software testing specialists donating their time to introduce the participants to this career path.
The program was designed to provide opportunities to young men and women with autism in an area that utilises the many strengths of neuro-diverse people.
How would you say diversity is embraced within your organisation or sector? Are there diversity initiatives in place or are diversity approaches new to your sector?
We work with employers to provide outcomes for people with disability and strive for diversity across industry. We stand by our commitment with 1 in 4 employees at EPIC Assist having a disability.
Finding employment for people with disability requires education of corporate Australia about the benefits of hiring and not excluding someone with a disability. We provide Disability Awareness Training to organisations as well as coach, mentor and assist participants prepare and find sustainable employment with on the job support. We stay with them on their journey, navigating the nuances of the work environment and supporting and guiding the employer until we are no longer required.
This course was facilitated with the generosity by leading industry trainers, Dr Lee Hawkins of Quest Software and Paul Seaman of Travelport Digital. It was designed to up-skill people who are on the autism spectrum, empowering them in using their strengths and thinking skills. It's a first for a disability employment service provider to create a complimentary course for software testing, creating opportunities to learn then looking to place them in employment.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
This course is for job seekers who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It is designed to provide an overview of the skills and knowledge required for a career in software testing, boosting employability in the IT industry. Through EPIC Assist, we promoted the course to our cohort and reached out to organisations providing services to families with young adults on the autism spectrum.
As part of the application, participants were required to demonstrate their critical thinking skills and natural ability by solving a black box puzzle. They were required to provide a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
There was no right or wrong answer, although the answer provided indicated their thought processes. Critical thinking enables an individual to test software with repetitive and 'outside the box' thinking to test the boundaries of the program.
Demonstrate the leadership shown in driving the initiative and fostering behavioural and organisational change.
The initiative opens up more opportunities for neuro-diverse people, providing another stream of employment that is well suited to their strengths.
Lee Hawkins and Paul Seaman are leading authorities on software testing and when brought together with EPIC Assist, we provide the right learning environment.
The commitment by Lee and Paul means that the course is provided at no charge and relies on donations from corporate Australia to provide venues, refreshments and materials. Lee and Paul promote their learnings from facilitating the course at software testing seminars and conventions to drive organisational change within their industry amongst their peers and the organisations in which they work.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
There was no resistance to the project. In fact, ANZ Bank sponsored the project in kind by providing a venue, through their corporate suites at 833 Collins. The venue was world class and we were very well looked after over the 12 week course outside of hours. CAST, the Association of Software Testers sponsored the refreshments each week.
The biggest challenge for us is to facilitate opportunities through corporate Australia, finding champions for Disability and Inclusion to be open to provide work experience and junior tester opportunities for the participants.
Detail the follow up or response to the project or initiative by the organisation /industry /sector. For example has it been extended for a further year, or has the scope been expanded?
We are actively seeking employment and work experience programs for the graduates of the course with different organisations for the participants to apply their new skills.
We invited the families of the participant to observe in the classroom. The feedback we received from the families was how much the participants had developed confidence and dedication to the program since its commencement.
We are planning Epic Testability Academy #3 for September 2018.
Please provide 2 references being the beneficiaries or people that experienced the change (as a result of the initiative). Details to be provided should include:
4. Phone number
6. Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
Name: Marco Ammazzaiorso
As a beneficiary, the main benefit from the course was learning the methodology and terminology and being able to apply these to most any type of testing. This was more evident from week 5 and week 8 where the trainers showed different methodologies that other people used to find bugs. It would have been good if they went further into other peoples methodologies.
This has made me a better tester by applying this framework and has made me realise that I would be interested to pursue a career in testing. I am currently applying the knowledge to recreational gaming.
The course has given me confidence for when starting my casual position as a QA Tester with Enabler Interactive that EPIC Assist has initiated. I had visited The Arcade and the Enabler team throughout the course for a group testing practice. The course opened up new ideas for me and enabled me to contribute among my peers in the course.
Name: Dominic Callegari
Organisation: Travelport Locomote
role: Junior QA Tester
Dominic's mother was amazed at the change within Dom in confidence and commitment to the course over the 12 weeks. It required the participants to make their way on public transport to the Docklands in the city for a 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm every Wednesday night. Dom had found a career interest that suited his strengths and trusted himself to share and contribute among his peers.
Dom has since been placed with Travelport Digital as a Junior QA Tester for a 6 week work experience program supported by EPIC Assist. We hope that this leads Dom to full time paid employment into the future in his chosen field.
What outcomes have been achieved against overall program or organisational performance? Using metrics specify these outcomes, for example financial, growth, policy achievement, performance or capabciltiy uplift?
Capability uplift - We are learning more about the best style of delivery for technology courses for people on the autism spectrum and using that knowledge to improve the format and delivery overall.
It provides EPIC Assist with a wider service offering within our toolbox, so more options are available for equipping people with disability.
We are able to broaden our range of employers that we can reach out to within different fields supporting the participants interest in testing for software and the gaming industry. Out of the 9 participants, we have 1 placed in a casual capacity and 1 in a 6 week work experience placement and continue to work on other suitable opportunities.
What do you consider your significant achievement with this Initiative and why?
Over the 12 weeks, we noticed within the participants:
- a growing confidence,
- a high rate of attendance in the participants
- A sense of hope for possibilities with newly defined directions in their career goals.
The participants only needed to invest their time and they did so enthusiastically. Many overcame the challenges of travelling long distances to arrive on time each week, where previous attempts to engage them in work trials were unsuccessful due to loss of hope. Homework was also required to be completed each week.
Who inspires you from a diversity perspective? Who provides leadership in diversity and why?
Our CEO of EPIC Assist, Bill Gamack shows compassion and action in the way he leads us at EPIC Assist in the area of disability. Other inspiring leaders for me are Dylan Allcott, Helen Keller, and Brigette Hyacinth as a thought leader on diversity on Linkedin.