More office jobs available to the disabled

A trainer with SG Enable, Rupert Gan, 35 (centre) speaks to participants of a training workshop at the Lifelong Learning Institute on 25 June, 2014. Such training workshops for disabled job seekers are organised by SG Enable and they cover topics suc
A trainer with SG Enable, Rupert Gan, 35 (centre) speaks to participants of a training workshop at the Lifelong Learning Institute on 25 June, 2014. Such training workshops for disabled job seekers are organised by SG Enable and they cover topics such as career planning and interview skills, and aims to help them secure job opportunities beyond the usual FnB companies. -- PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES 

Growing awareness among employers of these workers' capabilities, say firms

More job positions in offices - beyond the usual food outlets or hotels - have been available for the disabled in recent years.

In the first half of this year, 39 per cent of the 188 job openings from the companies that government-established agency SG Enable works with were "office-environment jobs".

These included positions for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), according to figures obtained by The Sunday Times. This is an increase from 31 per cent last year and 26 per cent in 2012.

Companies said this trend could be due to more employers being aware of disabled workers' capabilities.

Safety training firm Absolute Kinetics Consultancy hires five employees with disabilities.

They include a deaf person, who joined as an accounts manager four years ago and is now the company's group financial controller, and a physically disabled graphic designer.

Mr Alvin Yap, the firm's head of human resource and corporate communications, said more employers recognise that disabled staff can still contribute despite their limitations and do so in various industries and in office environments.

"Workers with disabilities can be well-educated and experienced too, and companies are missing out if they don't tap this workforce."

Ms Chua Siew Ling, director of Synergy One Corporate Services, agreed. Her company hired a speech-impaired accounts executive last year. Ms Chua said: "Some disabled employees have a lot of work experience, before they acquired a disability later in life. They are highly qualified and can still do well in PME positions."

To help disabled job seekers better secure opportunities, SG Enable has started a career workshop covering topics such as interview skills and resume writing (see sidebar).

Course trainer Rupert Gan said being equipped with interview techniques is particularly important when applying for PME positions "which test your cognitive abilities", compared with blue-collar positions where employers may focus more on testing a person's manual abilities.

Meanwhile, many job positions such as kitchen helpers and hotel housekeepers are still available.

About 37 per cent of the job openings this year from the 74 companies SG Enable works with were in the food and beverage (F&B) and hospitality industries.

The agency also gave The Sunday Times a breakdown of the type of employers offering jobs to the disabled.

Most of the 188 job openings this year were in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which offered 64 per cent of the jobs.

About a quarter were in multinational corporations, while the rest were in government-linked companies.

Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, said more SMEs have been willing to redesign jobs to attract senior citizens and the disabled amid the labour shortage.

"It is a good sign that companies are trying to be more resourceful and tapping into different pockets of the labour pool," he said.

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg