Specialisterne - Supporting Autism in Agriculture

Specialisterne is an innovative social business concept working to enable jobs for autistic adults through innovative employment models and a national change in mindset. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the unemployment rate for people on the autism spectrum was 40.8%, more than three times the rate for people with disability (10.0%) and almost six times the rate of people without disability (5.3%). It’s clear there are significant barriers to employment for autistic individuals, one of which is the traditional, antiquated recruitment method. We know the interview is not a fair assessment of the capabilities of jobseekers on the autism spectrum. By definition autistic adults may communicate and interact differently than their ‘neurotypical’ counterparts. These traditional recruitment methods are often biased towards individuals with well-developed interpersonal and communication skills, as a result many talented autistic individuals remain unemployed or underemployed.

Specialisterne Australia aims to break down these barriers by transforming the traditional recruitment process by providing customised recruitment and assessment programs that focus on demonstrating the skills and capabilities of candidates on the autism spectrum and integrating them into meaningful roles. Autistic individuals, while often challenged by social and communication difficulties have many vital skills needed by companies of all sizes and offer a range of skills that can be of benefit to any job. These skills include (but are not limited to) attention to detail, superior pattern recognition, high diligence, perseverance and a low tolerance for mistakes. Despite the reluctance of some organisations to hire autistic employees (possibly due to a lack of understanding of the adult presentation of autism), employees on the spectrum will thrive given understanding and inclusion. Often few workplace adaptations are needed for an employee on the spectrum, and changes made to accommodate autistic employees (e.g., clear, consistent instructions) are commonly reported to be of benefit to all employees in the workplace. The benefits of the autistic workforce are being increasingly noticed by major companies seeking the untapped potential of people who are neurodiverse.

Autism and Agriculture was an initiative of SunPork Farms and Autism CRC which aimed to improve animal welfare by creating opportunities in animal care for adults on the autism spectrum. In collaboration with the Pork CRC and Specialisterne Australia, nine autistic adults in South Australia and seven in Queensland were employed within SunPork Farms during the pilot program. Mentoring and workplace support was provided to enable candidates to work in the agricultural industry, employing key strengths in animal care to ultimately enhance animal welfare. Watch our video to find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1pQ4vF-Ke4.

Dairy Connect are proud to introduce our farming members to Specialisterne, and we'd like to share in their commitment to helping more organisations within Agriculture understand the edge that neurodiversity brings to the workforce, and help create pathways to access this untapped talent pool.

If you would like to contact us or find out more information about how we can help you access skilled staff, check out our website: http://au.specialisterne.com/ or contact Vicky Little: vicky.little@specialisterne.com