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The theme this year for UN World Autism Awareness Day was Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.1  So could this and other similar events lock arms with the future of work?  I eagerly think so.  Here’s why…

As we prepare for the Future of Work 20192 with assistance technologies, such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), we are seeking the best skills required by the 4th Industrial Revolution.3 We are also actively promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and increasingly adding Arts – humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media – to generate STEAM.  

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs4 report calls out the need for problem solving and collaboration skills. But what about divergent thinking, thinking outside the normal spectrum?

The autism spectrum disorder5 includes people with autism, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia and Down syndrome. It is now referred to as neurodivergent or outside the normative population. But just as we have embraced diversity of gender and ethnicity in the workplace and benefitted from different viewpoints, isn’t it time to embrace neurodiversity where every type of mind is valued for its unique perspective?  

I’m much encouraged that some IACCM members representing large corporations are leading the way in providing opportunities for people on the autism spectrum and leveraging their analytical and creative strengths.

Microsoft is working closely with companies like SAP, JP Morgan Chase, EY, Ford Motor Company, and DXC technologies, to create more inclusive hiring Autism initiatives.

The DXC Dandelion Program is an initiative designed to build valuable information technology skills and careers for individuals on the autism spectrum. Combining the use of robotics with commercial IT industry teaching and methodology, the focus of the program is on building and developing technical, life and executive functioning skills.

People with autism have long been overlooked in the workplace and these initiatives are not just about recruiting people with autism but are about reworking the organizational fabric to accept and integrate these individuals. DXC has almost 80 participants in the three-year structured program and by April 2019 that number is set to grow to at least 110. Although all of the candidates are employed by DXC, they work with a clients from federal government departments, including Defence, Human Services and Home Affairs.  

IACCM members are leading the way in realizing the unique productivity benefits of employing people who think differently. This is a great example of our 2019 Conference theme – Creating Value Through Change: Contract Economics, Ethics, Innovation – by changing our perception of what type of mindsets and skills are required in the teams of the future. These teams will increasingly leverage Assistive Technologies, Active Participation by human beings and robots.

All are great examples of companies participating actively in Assistive Technologies, Active Participation! If you are trying to understand how contract and commercial management can help shape this future of work, you are not alone. Discover more at


  1. World Autism Awareness Day April 2 [2019]) See also United Nations Autism AwarenessUN Web TV article
  2. Embrace Change to Manage the New Workplace Reality– Future of Work Summit 13 June 2019
  3. Article titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution Will Be Powered by Soft and Hard Skills
  4. World Economic Forum The Future of Jobs.

Ref. Definition of autism spectrum disorder.

Bruce Everett, Regional CEO of IACCM’s Asia Pacific Region (APAC)

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