Hiring disabled people benefits all in community

It is heartening to learn that Lemon Tree Hotels, with 13 per cent of its staff being people with disabilities, is hiring more such employees ("Video game training for police, hotel jobs for the disabled bag regional HR awards"; ST Online, last Wednesday).

This is a good example for the corporate community in Singapore, which we hope would be encouraged to hire people with disabilities.

Recently, Mr Christy Lynch, chief executive of Kare, an organisation that provides support to people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland, was in Singapore to share his experiences in supporting employment for people with disabilities.

At a conference on an inclusive workforce last month, he said that people with disabilities need real jobs in regular settings and should not be limited to centre-based vocational placement, so that they will eventually be integrated and included in society.

Employers need to overcome the "fear" of hiring people with disabilities as it may not be as onerous as perceived. That being said, on-the-job training and other job support are helpful in the open employment of people with disabilities.

Voluntary welfare organisations that provide employment support can assist employers in this area.

Accommodation at the workplace need not be costly. Sometimes, the minor adjustments to existing furniture or machinery needed to accommodate the worker with disabilities could also benefit other employees who may be required to carry out the same task from time to time.

We have, in fact, heard companies which hire people with disabilities saying that it makes business sense for them to match and place people with disabilities in jobs they are able to perform.

Not only does hiring people with disabilities benefit their companies and the employees with disabilities, but it also creates a win-win situation for the whole community.

With a job, people with disabilities can contribute to the economy and, consequently, reduce reliance on social welfare.

We are seeing more companies adopt diversity and inclusion programmes and discussing disability at their workplaces.

With this, we hope to see an increase in the hiring of people with disabilities.

Abhimanyau Pal
Executive Director
SPD (formerly known as the Society for the Physically Disabled)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2015, with the headline 'Hiring disabled people benefits all in community'. Print Edition | Subscribe