Mindset change needed for more inclusive workplaces: Welfare groups

April 6, 201610:09 am613 views

Businesses and welfare groups have said that Singapore could encourage more inclusive workplaces by raising awareness of disabilities and of training grants available.

In Parliament on Monday, (Apr 4), Nominated Member of Parliament and SPD president Chia Yong Yong had called for a national education campaign to raise public awareness of disabilities not immediately obvious to the naked eye.

“Give us a chance to train and upgrade our skills, so we can work … Give us a chance to work so we can be less of a burden to our families,” said Ms Chia, who has peroneal muscular atrophy and is wheelchair-bound.

HELPING STAFF WITH DISABILITIES

Mary Kaw, 56, suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, but her condition does not stop her from making and selling handicrafts.

She picked up these skills after taking on a job as a fashion consultant with social enterprise WISE, which sent her for training at the Singapore Retail Institute.

Staff with disabilities get a monthly salary and sales commission at WISE, whose stated aim is to provide gainful employment opportunities for the socially disadvantaged.

Ms Kaw said of her occupation: “I feel like at least there’s someone who wants us. And I feel like our talent would not be wasted.”

WISE executive director Soon Kok Tiang said human resource departments should be made aware that they can play a role in encouraging companies to employ the disabled.

“If we consciously want to create a job, we can do that. Lots of training will make it easier because it will boost their confidence. I think knowledge is really the key here,” she said.

Singapore Association for the Deaf executive director Sylvia Teng said it was “not that expensive or difficult to implement” measures to accommodate the needs of employees with disabilities, but this requires a mindset change among employers.

This would involve employers and colleagues developing an awareness and understanding of the disability, and of how to minimise disruptions and maximise productivity with the disabled employees, Ms Teng said.

SPD executive director Abhimanyau Pal said one way to promote more inclusive hiring practices would be to raise awareness of grants and schemes providing support for companies hiring people with disabilities, such as the Open Door Programme and Special Employment Credit.

“Increasing the awareness of these support programmes to the business community and the potential capabilities of people with disabilities may encourage more companies to adopt an inclusive hiring practice,” he said.

news source: channlenewsasia.com

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