More people with disabilities employed during Covid-19 pandemic

Most people with disabilities work in community, social and personal services, food and beverages services and professional services sectors. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG

SINGAPORE - The Covid-19 pandemic did not stop employers here from hiring more people with disabilities (PWDs), according to the latest labour force statistics.

In the two-year period of 2020 and 2021, the average resident employment for people with disabilities aged 15 to 64 was 30.1 per cent, said Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Eric Chua on Wednesday (March 9).

This is up from 28.2 per cent in the two-year period of 2018 and 2019, Mr Chua added.

He was replying to a parliamentary question by Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang) on the percentage of special needs adults who were gainfully employed in the past two year, and how this compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Mr Chua said most PWDs work in the community, social and personal services, food and beverage services and professional services sectors.

Said Mr Chua: "Some common challenges that persons with disabilities face in securing employment include the need for additional support to adapt to the workplace and difficulties in communicating with co-workers and supervisors.

"Some employers are also concerned about the additional costs required to hire and support persons with disabilities, such as physical workplace modifications and the purchase of equipment."

He outlined several schemes to support employment of PWDs, such as the Open Door Programme administered by SG Enable, which is aimed at supporting employers in hiring, training and integrating PWDs into the workforce. The programme is supported by Workforce Singapore and the ministry.

Between 2014 and 2021, SG Enable and its job placement partners helped to place more than 3,500 PWDs in jobs, Mr Chua said.

About 600 organisations have participated in training conducted by SG Enable to learn skills on how to recruit and integrate people with disabilities into their workplaces, he added.

The Government also supports employers with the Enabling Employment Credit, which provides employers of PWDs with wage offsets of up to 30 per cent for each Singaporean employee with a disability earning below $4,000 per month, Mr Chua said.

In the first half of last year, more than 5,200 employers hired more than 8,600 people with disabilities with support from the credit.

Employers who expand local hiring may also be eligible for wage support under the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI), said Mr Chua.

Based on latest available data, more than 2,900 people with disabilities were hired between September 2020 and August last year with support from the JGI, he said, adding that the initiative will be extended to September.

In a follow-up question, Mr Yip asked if the ministry is working closely with the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Workforce Singapore to match PWDs with employers.

Mr Chua said both organisations are already working closely to help PWDs, with e2i referring interested employers to SG Enable. Workforce Singapore also funds the Open Door Programme, he added.

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