2017 Finalists - Will Spensley Memorial Award for Innovation - PRIVATE SECTOR
The Dandelion Program Work Experience Program is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Uniquely, this program utilizes skills of University students on the autism spectrum to develop learning tools through robotics for primary school children who are on the spectrum.
These University students who quite often get overlooked in the normal recruitment processes gain valuable experience and more importantly, it also offers them an opportunity to showcase their capabilities in a supportive environment, leading to meaningful employment in the IT world. The labour force participation rate for people with autism is 42%. The rate of participation for people with any disability is 53%, and for those without disabilities, it’s 83%.
The program revolves around a NAO Robot that gets placed in primary schools to assist teachers, teaching children who are also on the autism spectrum. The robot significantly increases their learning and engagement levels. Another key benefit is that the children get to interact with the university students who they see as a role model and are able to see a tangible pathway for their future.
We are currently implementing our second Dandelion Work Experience Program in Canberra with ANU, UC, CIT and Caroline Chisholm School.
The program was recently presented at the United Nations promoting World Autism Day in April 2017 and SA iAward for Community service.
Testimonials/Feedback from UniSA Participants
“Solving problems in a team created some of my fondest experiences”
“It was a fantastic experience. You learn a lot, you experience a lot, and you can meet some really interesting people.”
Russell Max, Teacher at Heights School "We could not believe the positive impact the robot has made on the children - we have not seen them engage like that in school and the impact was immediate"
Career Pathfinder (KPMG career guidance tool):
The KPMG Career Pathfinder online tool is a key differentiator and a first in our market. Students were consistently telling us that they didn’t know where to start. They wanted to work at KPMG but were not sure what roles or businesses to consider. So we wanted to offer a way for students to find out more about KPMG and where to start their career research.
We also wanted to build a tool that looked beyond what a student was studying – because at KPMG we look for graduates from all degree disciplines – but rather focused on key skills.
Students answer 20 quick fire questions to understand their working style and they are then aligned to one of 6 personality types. These 6 personality types are then aligned to our 30 different service lines. Based on your personality type, the tool then suggests a few different service lines that the student might be best suited to.
This tool has been particularly important in supporting students from non-traditional academic degrees in finding their ideal career at KPMG. It helps them to align their personality traits and working styles to best-fit service lines and roles across our divisions. It helps must the myth that you can only join KPMG if you’ve studied Accounting! It’s also designed to raise awareness of our “lesser known” service lines. Those groups that a student might not previously have thought of.
We feel there is nothing better than an offsite immersion week that exposes our Grads to REA Group’s software development process, our business and the amazing people. It’s a week where graduates are engaged, challenged, accepted and taught everything they need to hit the ground running. We call it O(n) Week. We are now in our fifth year of our graduate program and have gone from recruiting 4 developer graduates to recruiting 14 graduates across technology disciplines to match the needs of our business.
This year, we re-imagined what an innovative induction experience is and introduced a multi-disciplinary one-day project. We looked to create an innovative experience irrespective of their grad program stream whether it be engineering, data, analysts or UX and paired the grads with senior REA mentors and ex-grads.
In addition to the learning outcomes of a team-based project, we ran the project in agile project methodology, something that REA Group practices and is known for across Australia as best-practice ways of working. Another key success factor was the comradery and sense of belonging for the grad community.
The Grads’ project was to design and build a widget that displays relevant data that improves the customer’s overall experience of that product’s webpage. It involved ideation, wire framing, modelling big data, user research, front end and back end development and testing all within a couple of iterations. With over 30 people involved in the delivery of the project on the day, the experience was beyond what we had intended and we have shared this knowledge across many other similar businesses who run Grad induction programs . We’re now in planning for the 2018 O(n)Week and will look to run this project on a much bigger scale to fully immerse them in REA Group ways of working.