Dandelion Programme—making IT career dreams come true

Joel sitting at his desk and working on his computer

Joel Bissmire has always dreamed of a career in IT and thanks to the Dandelion Programme, he’s living that dream and flourishing.

The programme is a partnership between the Department of Human Services, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Danish organisation Specialisterne.

It provides a three year traineeship which gives people on the Autism Spectrum an avenue to use their IT skills and gain employment.

Following completion of his HSC, Joel began a Bachelor of Games and Interactive Entertainment. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out for Joel and since 2011 he worked part-time at a fast-food outlet.

But things changed for Joel last year.

“I heard about the Dandelion Programme through my Mum, so when we found out it was coming to Brisbane I applied straight away,” Joel recalled.

Joel was then accepted into the program after a strong performance at the four-week assessment.

“By the end of the assessment I really hoped I would get the job. When I found out that I got it I immediately told my Mum and she was excited. I thought ‘ I’ll have to buy shoes!’,” he said

Joel has an especially strong eye-for-detail which means he is able to perform to a high standard in his software testing role.

“My day to day role includes testing new features into existing systems to make sure they don’t break,” he explained.

“The job is fairly important because we don’t want the consumers to get faulty software.”

Joel said he has become much more tolerant of others since he started in the programme and he enjoys working in an office where he is part of a productive team.

“I enjoy going to work and I enjoy the company of my workmates – something I have never experienced at work before.

“This is a job I really like and I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity. I think it will open up a lot of different employment prospects for me in the future.”

And what advice would Joel give to other people on the Autism Spectrum?

“I think the best advice I can provide is to just put your foot in the door and give it a real try.”