Initiative to help special needs students discover job interests to be scaled up

Piloted by disability support agency SG Enable last year, Job Shadowing Day offers students an opportunity to be attached at workplaces like a hotel, restaurant or government agency for a day.
Piloted by disability support agency SG Enable last year, Job Shadowing Day offers students an opportunity to be attached at workplaces like a hotel, restaurant or government agency for a day. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - An initiative to expose special education (Sped) school students to various job roles and workplaces will soon be scaled up to reach more students.

Job Shadowing Day, which helps Sped students to discover their job interest early, will run as an annual programme from next year, said the Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Saturday (Oct 14). He added that the programme will go towards strengthening the employability of Sped graduates.

Piloted by disability support agency SG Enable last year, it offers students an opportunity to be attached at workplaces like a hotel, restaurant or government agency for a day.

This year, 90 students from eight Sped schools, aged between 15 and 18, took part in the programme, held last month (Sept). They were attached to 16 employers from various industries. Last year, 80 students learnt about the working world through the programme.

Among the participants was Nur Farahnisha Sahlan, 18, who went through the programme last year.

The student from Minds Lee Kong Chian Gardens School was attached to Pan Pacific Hotels Group, where she did housekeeping tasks such as making the beds and vacuuming the floor alongside co-workers. These tasks had to be broken down into simpler steps to make it easier for students to grasp.

Ms Farahnisha said she enjoyed the work, and got to make friends in the process. "It was fun and I learnt a lot," she added.


Nur Farahnisha Sahlan was attached to Pan Pacific Hotels Group, where she did housekeeping tasks such as making the beds and vacuuming the floor alongside co-workers. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Her supervisors were so impressed with her positive attitude and desire to learn that they offered her a four-month job attachment earlier this year.

Ms Alice Lee, director of human capital and development at Pan Pacific Singapore, said her organisation hopes to attract more Sped students under the programme.

"I think the one day of job shadowing helps students to have a better understanding of the roles that they would be doing. For employers, we are able to mingle with them and understand how we can work with them," she added.

Job Shadowing Day was started as some Sped students had found it challenging to identify their career interests.

The initiative helps to address this gap at an earlier stage, while students are still in their schooling years, said Mr Lee, who was speaking at SG Enable's training and career fair at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru.

Mr Lee added that employers can also benefit in that Sped students represent a manpower pipeline they can tap on. "These opportunities to interact will also allow employers to better assess the abilities of our students and their suitability for job roles and in turn, work with our schools to build on the students' skill sets, in order to grow their pipeline of potential employees," he said.