Parliament: More than 25% of people with disabilities are employed

In this photo taken on Aug 30 last year, people from the SPD - the former Society for the Physically Disabled - packing bags for The Straits Times Run. The Ministry of Manpower's annual Comprehensive Labour Force Survey found that community, social a
In this photo taken on Aug 30 last year, people from the SPD - the former Society for the Physically Disabled - packing bags for The Straits Times Run. The Ministry of Manpower's annual Comprehensive Labour Force Survey found that community, social and personal services make up one of the main sectors that employ staff with disabilities.ST FILE PHOTO

More than 25 per cent of people aged 15 to 64 who have disabilities are employed, said Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament yesterday.

Add those who are actively looking for a job and the pool expands to about one-third, according to new data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The remaining two-thirds in this age group were outside the labour force, with most of them citing poor health or disability as the main reason, said Mr Zaqy in his reply to Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).

In proportional terms, the resident employment rate for people with disabilities is 28.6 per cent, while another 4.2 per cent are active job seekers.

MOM recently began to collect data on the employment of persons with disabilities through the annual Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, with data available from last year, said Mr Zaqy.

He also gave a breakdown of employment rates in the group: 27.6 per cent for those aged 15 to 39; 37.8 per cent for those between 40 and 49; 26.1 per cent for those between 50 and 64; and 5.9 per cent for those who are 65 and older.

The sectors employing most of these people are community, social and personal services, food services, administrative and support services, and manufacturing. Together, they account for more than half of workers with disabilities.

Mr Chong also asked for an update on programmes to help companies employ and train people with disabilities.

 
 
 

In response, Mr Zaqy said more employers are benefiting from the Special Employment Credit (SEC), in which the Government offsets a proportion of the wages of workers with disabilities who earn up to $4,000 a month.

The automatic wage offset goes up to 16 per cent of the employee's monthly income for those younger than 67, and up to 22 per cent for those aged 67 and older.

Last year, more than 5,700 employers who hired in excess of 8,600 of these Singaporeans altogether benefited from the SEC. This is an increase from 2012, when the credit was paid to about 3,200 employers hiring about 5,000 Singaporeans with disabilities.

Mr Zaqy also highlighted other initiatives that employers can tap, such as the Open Door Programme which provides job placement and job support services for people with disabilities.

Another is a career trial that allows jobseekers and employers to assess each other and the job fit for up to three months. During this period, the Government gives the jobseekers a training allowance.

Besides these measures, a work group was announced in March this year. It aims to prepare people with disabilities for the future economy by improving access to lifelong learning opportunities and employment pathways, said Mr Zaqy.

The group plans to release its recommendations early next year.

Mr Chong also asked about the difference between the employment rate of 28.6 per cent and the 4.9 per cent that was reported in The Straits Times in February this year.

The article, "Just 5 in 100 people here with disabilities have jobs", had derived the employment rate through calculations of publicly available data.

Mr Zaqy said the number of employed persons with disabilities used in that article was an underestimate, because it came from a parliamentary reply from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, which did not take into account those who earned $4,000 and more a month, and those who were not registered with SG Enable.

He added that for the total number of persons with disabilities, the article had used an estimated rate from a sample survey of 2,000 people conducted by the National Council of Social Service, while MOM's new figures from the Comprehensive Labour Force Survey take into account a larger sample.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2019, with the headline 'More than 25% of people with disabilities are employed'. Print Edition | Subscribe