Course opens new job sector to those with disabilities

Mr Ng Yi Feng (left) and Mr Muhaimin Afandi, students of the new Building and Facilities Services Programme, in a mock-up of a hotel room in the APSN Centre for Adults. The nine-month course starts with vocational training and includes a six-month ap
Mr Ng Yi Feng (left) and Mr Muhaimin Afandi, students of the new Building and Facilities Services Programme, in a mock-up of a hotel room in the APSN Centre for Adults. The nine-month course starts with vocational training and includes a six-month apprenticeship in hotels, including the Shangri-La.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Trainees are guaranteed jobs in maintenance engineering

A new course is training people with intellectual disabilities and lining them up with jobs in the maintenance and engineering sectors.

Those who complete the Building and Facilities Services programme will receive a certificate accredited by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and a guaranteed job at local building and engineering firm Aegis.

Social service organisation the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) has teamed up with Aegis to offer the nine-month course, which kicks off with vocational training and includes a six-month apprenticeship in hotels, including the Shangri-La and Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza.

"People with disabilities tend to traditionally work in sectors such as food and beverage (F&B) and hospitality," said APSN chief executive officer Christopher Tay. "With courses like these, they can be exposed to new industries and make themselves more relevant."

Yesterday, Dr Tay signed a memorandum of understanding with Aegis managing director Yeong Wai Teck at the APSN Centre for Adults (CFA) in Eunos, where the training segment is conducted.

Over 3 per cent of the local population aged between 18 and 49, and 13 per cent of those aged 50 and above have disabilities, according to the National Council of Social Service. Yet, these individuals make up just 0.55 per cent of the workforce - mostly in the hospitality, F&B, retail and administrative support sectors.

Mr Yeong suggested that employers' assumptions that persons with disabilities are not competent enough to work in certain jobs may play a part in their lack of representation in the maintenance and engineering sector.

The new course started earlier this month with 10 trainees, who will be offered the opportunity to work as preventive maintenance engineers. They will be taught skills such as painting and grouting.

Trainee Muhaimin Afandi has been with APSN for nearly two years and worked in a cafe at CFA previously. However, the 24-year-old prefers the quiet environment that comes with a maintenance job. "It helps me to focus and do my job better," he said.

During their six-month apprenticeship period, trainees will earn $1,100 a month. The ITE-accredited certificate they receive upon completion of the course will also give them the necessary qualifications to seek other avenues of employment, said Dr Tay.


Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that JW Marriot is one of the hotels offering the six-month apprenticeship. APSN has since clarified that it should be Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2018, with the headline 'Course opens new job sector to those with disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe