Taking job help to those with disabilities

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam with barista Salihin Nakmin, 21, at the Art+Coffee cafe, part of The Art Faculty by Pathlight at the Enabling Village, yesterday. Mr Tharman was attending the launch of a book to mark the 20th anniversary
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam with barista Salihin Nakmin, 21, at the Art+Coffee cafe, part of The Art Faculty by Pathlight at the Enabling Village, yesterday. Mr Tharman was attending the launch of a book to mark the 20th anniversary of the Autism Resource Centre.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Govt looking at setting up neighbourhood hubs to offer training, work to these people

People with disabilities may soon find it more convenient to go for job training and work as the Ministry of Social and Family Development studies the feasibility of setting up employment centres in residential neighbourhoods.

The centres are meant to train and offer jobs to people with disabilities at locations nearer their homes.

Speaking at the launch of a book to mark the 20th anniversary of the Autism Resource Centre (ARC) yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said such hubs would solve a practical problem.

He said: "This simplifies daily commuting, which is a practical issue for persons with disabilities, and builds on local networks with employers.

"Local collaboration in a neighbourhood has many positive spin-offs, builds relationships... and can help both persons with disabilities and their caregivers in a different and very practical way."

"We can't be everywhere because we need a certain critical mass, but I think we can have it in more parts of Singapore."

Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, said the Government's study draws from the experience of the Enabling Village, which officially opened in December 2015.

It is near Redhill MRT station and has facilities such as the ARC's Employment and Employability Centre, where people with autism receive job training.

Some of them go on to work in the FairPrice supermarket and restaurants in the Enabling Village.

ARC president Denise Phua, who is an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, said having more of such hubs would be a good move, "provided there are enough jobs at a certain site to enable us to set up training systems in the companies and deploy job coaches".

CONVENIENCE

This simplifies daily commuting, which is a practical issue for persons with disabilities, and builds on local networks with employers. 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM, on setting up employment centres in neighbourhoods.

Mr Thomas Teo, 28, who uses a wheelchair and sells mobility aids, said the convenience would be helpful but added: "There must be jobs available. Not many companies are willing to hire people with disabilities."

Housewife Jennifer Tay, who is in her early 50s and has a son with autism, said the feasibility of the idea would depend on the availability of resources, noting that Singapore's transport network already makes many workplaces accessible for people with disabilities.

The book launched by the ARC yesterday is titled Making A Difference Together - Parents And Professionals In Partnership. It chronicles efforts to improve the lives of people with autism and the ARC's history.

ARC adviser Ho Ching, who is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife, wrote the book's foreword and attended the launch. More than 100 people, including donors, parents and beneficiaries, were also present.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Taking job help to those with disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe