New initiative to create more training, employment opportunities in HR for people with disabilities

President Halimah Yacob noted that employers play a pivotal role in society's ongoing efforts to empower persons with disabilities. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A new initiative to create training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in human resource (HR) services is one example of how employers can promote inclusive hiring, said President Halimah Yacob on Friday (Oct 15).

To be commissioned in the first quarter of next year, SG Enable will support up to 30 training and employment opportunities with partners such as Microsoft Singapore and Alibaba Cloud under the HR Power Bank initiative by Human Capital Singapore (HCS), she added.

SG Enable is an agency dedicated to enabling people with disabilities.

Under HR Power Bank, HCS will provide people with disabilities trained as HR administrators to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), where HR professional services are often below par, said Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of the HCS management board.

In Madam Halimah's opening address at a virtual masterclass on the competitive advantage of disability-inclusive hiring, she noted that employers play a pivotal role in society's ongoing efforts to empower people with disabilities.

She said: "Inclusive hiring has slowly become a reality, due to the collective effort of many companies like all those present today."

To date, 148 organisations from private, people and public sectors have signed the President's Challenge Enabling Employment Pledge that was launched in March last year, to affirm their commitment to inclusive hiring, she noted.

The pledge calls on organisations to adopt an inclusive mindset, create barrier-free workplace environments and implement supportive policies for employees with disabilities.

Employers who sign the pledge can look forward to building up capabilities and receiving support like Friday's masterclass, in their efforts to hire, train and integrate people with disabilities, Madam Halimah added.

"Those who are ready can also take the next step of applying for the Enabling Mark - a national accreditation by SG Enable that benchmarks and recognises organisations for their best practices and outcomes in disability inclusive employment," she said.

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, 88 organisations received the Enabling Mark in August this year, said Madam Halimah.

The UOB Group is an example of an organisation that has demonstrated inclusive hiring practices, she added, highlighting its reaching out to SMEs to generate interest in tapping people with disabilities to meet their workforce needs.

Seoul Garden - a chain of restaurants that is part of UOB's initiative - now has 10 per cent of its employees made up of people with disabilities.

Noting that there is a strategic advantage to having a diverse and inclusive workforce, Madam Halimah said employing people with disabilities will help with the overall well-being and organisational culture of businesses.

"Inclusive hiring is an ongoing journey. I hope that we can continue to empower persons with disabilities to achieve their fullest potential at the workplaces."

More than 400 participants, including business owners, corporate leaders and representatives of people with disabilities, attended the masterclass on Friday.

The event featured companies such as Deutsche Bank and Thong Siek Food Industry sharing their disability-inclusive ideas and practices.

About 29 per cent of people aged 15 to 64 who have disabilities are employed, according to figures released in April this year from the Ministry of Manpower.

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