For persons with disabilities, job-hunting can be difficult and sometimes, it seems like an insurmountable challenge. That was the case for Ms Siti Hanifaa Abdullah.
Ms Siti used to work night shifts, and encountered taxi drivers who were reluctant to help stow her bulky, motorised wheelchair in the boot. She wanted a day job, which would enable her to travel by public transport. But since leaving her previous job, she struggled to land an interview opportunity for two months.
The difficulties Ms Siti encountered are commonly faced by persons with disabilities in job hunting. One avenue they can turn to for help is SG Enable’s Job Placement and Job Support (JPJS) programme. Through this programme, persons with disabilities can get career advisory services, pre-employment and vocational training, and free job matching and post-placement job support.
The JPJS services assure employers that specialised support is available to help them kick-start their journey towards hiring persons with disabilities.
Ms Siti was referred to SPD, one of SG Enable’s JPJS partners. SPD helps persons with disabilities of all ages to maximise their potential and integrate them into mainstream society. SPD matched Ms Siti’s skillsets to suitable employers and helped her to secure a job as a call centre executive with Marina Bay Sands.
To enable Ms Siti to move around independently with ease, SPD worked with Marina Bay Sands to make physical modifications such as installing automated doors, allocating her a wider workstation near the entrance, lowering the card reader and the power point beside her workstation and deploying ramps along her work area.
Marina Bay Sands has been hiring persons with disabilities since 2010, highlights Ms Chan Yit Foon, senior vice-president, human resources. “In 2016, we expanded our recruitment efforts to renew our focus on hiring persons with disabilities through a partnership with SG Enable and SPD. Our close collaboration allows us to exchange know-how and best practices,” she says.
SG Enable started laying the foundation for the development of a national accreditation with such employer collaborations and support from the SBF Foundation.
In 2021, Marina Bay Sands was accredited with the Enabling Mark (Platinum).
“SG Enable and SPD’s support in our inclusive hiring efforts have been pivotal at every step of the recruitment process. They assess and provide candidates who are fit for available roles and their respective job demands. Prior to shortlisting them for interviews, SG Enable and SPD go the extra mile to speak to their families to set their expectations and explain to them the job requirements and work environment. Subsequent mentorship and coaching upon acceptance of the roles help these candidates adapt at ease to their new work environment,” she elaborates.
Going the extra mile
Social enterprise, Dione International, has made the extra effort to integrate persons with disabilities into the team, and tapped the JPJS programme. Mr Christopher Toh, managing director, Dione International, says that with SG Enable’s grant support for persons with disabilities, “we were able to upgrade both hardware and software within our production and office areas. This enabled us to make our working environment more inclusive and comfortable for all persons with disabilities”.
Through this collaboration with SG Enable, Dione International is able to upgrade their facilities or equipment, like removing a glass door between the office and production rooms for easier access, providing walkie talkies for persons with disabilities to easily liaise with colleagues or call for assistance, and arranging for more ergonomic chairs to help them work comfortably for longer hours.
These efforts have benefitted staff like Philip Koh Yew Soon, who has visual impairment. He joined the company in 2019 as an administrative assistant. He says: “The company guided me and saw my ability to lead”, promoting him to general manager in charge of production.
The profile of job seekers with disabilities is diverse. Depending on how much assistance job seekers require, SG Enable provides career preparatory programmes to enrich their work experience and network. “For those with higher support needs, we work with our SSA partners based in Enabling Village, to offer them JPJS services,” says Ms Ku Geok Boon, chief executive officer, SG Enable.
The Enabling Village, the first inclusive community space in Singapore with a strong focus on training and employment for persons with disabilities, is where SG Enable’s JPJS partners – Autism Resource Centre, MINDS and SPD – are co-located. This helps to achieve one of Enabling Village’s key aims, says Ms Ku, which is “to become a focal point for inclusive hiring, and to improve the training and employment outcomes of persons with disabilities”.
Developed and managed by SG Enable, it has received the 2022 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Award for Excellence, which recognises truly superior development efforts in the private, public and non-profit sectors.
Ms Ku says this accolade affirms Enabling Village’s wide-ranging and enduring impact.
At Enabling Village, persons with disabilities and employers can tap a one-stop employment facilitation service. “Together with our partners, Enabling Village also piloted various training and employment models which have inspired more employers to step forward and hire persons with disabilities in more diverse sectors,” Ms Ku says.
SPD CEO Abhimanyau Pal says employers have become more receptive towards hiring persons with disabilities. “The team also engages employment partners in job task analysis, and makes recommendations on workplace modifications and accommodation so that persons with disabilities can thrive in their work,” he says.
This is part 4 of 6 in a quarterly series about disability-inclusive employment. Look out for the next article in The Straits Times in January 2023.
Supported by the Enabling Lives Initiative by SG Enable & Tote Board and the President's Challenge Empowering for Life Fund.