By Chuang Peck Ming
NEED help with handicaps? Here's a guide to who you can turn to:
- The inter-agency Employment Workgroup chaired by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). It makes it easy for the employment throughput framework for handicaps to happen. The workgroup coordinates efforts of the relevant agencies to shape the progressive developments of the employment landscape for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
The agencies include the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Workforce Development Agency (WDA), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and the Enabling Employers Network (EEN).
Pre-employment skills training:
- OPEN DOOR Fund (ODF). Launched in 2007 by MCYS, it provides a grant of up to $100,000 to employers who hire PWDs. The Fund can be used for job redesign and job support (eg job coaches). In April 2009, the Fund was revised to include an apprenticeship training scheme. Through the ODF, more than 450 PWDs have found employment since 2007.
- EEN. This is an alliance of like-minded employers seeking to champion and advance the employment opportunities for PWDs. It is led by Shantha de Silva, regional manager of InterContinental Hotels Group, Singapore, Malaysia and Batam. EEN has helped to reach out to at least 110 companies over the past two years to take advantage of the ODF.
- MOM and WDA. They support MCYS and NCSS by providing industry skills standards and curriculum under the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework, which voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and training providers can tailor to meet the needs of the disabled. The certifications offered to PWDs under this framework are equivalent to that of their able-bodied peers.
- MOE ties up with NTUC Learning Hub and ITE to provide vocational and pre-vocational skills training in selected SPED (special education) schools.
- The two training and integration centres run by Eureka Call Centre and Holiday Inn Orchard City Centre to provide on-the-job training for PWDs in the call centre and hospitality industries, respectively.
Vocational assessment and vocational training:
- The SPD Infocomm Accessibility Centre, started by MCYS and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), offers several programmes that allow PWDs to take up infocomm technology. This includes a structured infocomm training curriculum that lead to industry certification as well as apprenticeship and employment opportunities through hands-on work training, facilitation of job placements and vocational assessments.
- Bizlink Centre Singapore Ltd (Bizlink) Vocational Assessment Division (VAD) provides vocational assessment to PWDs to evaluate their aptitudes, skills, interest and employability before making recommendations on their suitability for employment.
- Over the next few years, NCSS will also be working with VWOs and training providers to provide post-SPED vocational training for PWDs leading to WSQ certifications in identified industries.
- Bizlink Employment Placement Division provides job placement services for PWDs who can work. It also provides job support services to keep PWDs working.
- The Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore offers job placement and job support for handicaps with intellectual disabilities. The Society for the Physically Disabled does the same for handicaps with physical or sensory disabilities.
This article was first published in The Business Times.