Parliament: More than one-quarter of people with disabilities are employed

The sectors employing most people with disabilities are community, social and personal services, food services, administrative and support services and manufacturing. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 25 per cent of people with disabilities, aged 15 to 64, are employed, said Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament on Monday (Sept 2).

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

The remaining two-thirds in this age group are outside the labour force, with most of them citing poor health or disability as the main reason, added 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 jobseekers.

The ministry began to collect data on employment of persons with disabilities recently through the annual Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, with data available from 2018, 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, these sectors employ more than half of the workers with disabilities.

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

Replying, 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 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 noted other initiatives that employers can tap, like the Open Door Programme which provides job placement and job support services for people with disabilities. It also helps employers, with grants for training and job redesign.

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 to look at preparing people with disabilities for the future economy by improving access to lifelong learning opportunities and employment pathways, said Mr Zaqy.

Co-chaired by Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan and Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), it plans to release its recommendations early next year.

Mr Zaqy, noting its purpose, said: "Inclusive employment requires collaboration among the public, private and people sectors."

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