Make job creation for people with disabilities a national issue: President Halimah

This year's President's Challenge is focused on empowering persons with disabilities. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Jobs for people with disabilities should be planned at the national level, President Halimah Yacob said on Wednesday (June 10).

She said this in the context of her hope that the newly created National Jobs Council, which will focus on creating jobs and building skills during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, will also review how employment is created for persons with disabilities.

They will benefit much more if they are included in mainstream job creation and job placement efforts instead of being treated separately, she added.

"We should look at (employment for persons with disabilities) as a national issue, rather than for it to be just an objective of welfare organisations and social service agencies," she said in a Facebook post.

The jobs council was announced during the fourth budget on May 26, with Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam as its chair.

Madam Halimah said: "In my many conversations with parents of persons with disabilities, the lack of job opportunities for their children and the worry of how their children will sustain themselves after they are gone are often lifelong concerns."

This year's President's Challenge is focused on empowering persons with disabilities.

In her post, Madam Halimah also invited more employers to sign the Enabling Employment Pledge, which would signal their commitment to doing more to provide training and employment to persons with disabilities.

She noted that Singapore has managed to avert large-scale retrenchments because of the support measures implemented, but the country has to be prepared that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused fundamental shifts in the economy.

The National Jobs Council is the first time Singapore is having a national-level council dedicated to jobs, said Madam Halimah.

The council has 17 members, including eight ministers and representatives from the labour movement and business associations.

"As we review, restrategise or refocus where our economy is heading, we need to gain a better perspective of where the jobs will be and how to make them accessible to Singaporeans. The work of this Council is about charting our future together," she added.

"Covid-19 has brought about major disruptions and uncertainties. But the silver lining is that it is also an opportunity for us to review our national priorities.

"If we as a nation decide to define compassion and kindness as what we truly value, we can emerge from this crisis a better people. So let us stand in solidarity with our fellow Singaporeans, and make the best out of this crisis," said Madam Halimah.

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