SG Enable helping disabled undergrads to find internships

April 1, 201410:41 am1243 views
SG Enable helping disabled undergrads to find internships
SG Enable helping disabled undergrads to find internships

SINGAPORE — Mr Daniel Seah had sent out seven internship applications in the hope of securing a job, which he needed to graduate from university, but he never heard from the companies he applied to.

The 24-year-old undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) believes this is because he has brittle bone disease, a genetic disorder that causes his bones to break easily.

“All the applications I sent were rejected. I think it’s because of my condition and also because I feel that an intern is required to do much more work than a graduate a lot of manual work,” said Mr Seah, who is wheelchair-bound and declared his disability in job applications. He eventually secured an internship at an accounting firm after seeking help from the Society for the Physically Disabled.

To aid undergraduates with disabilities, SG Enable — an agency that supports disabled people — has launched a pilot internship programme. The first round of the pilot, which kicked off in December last year with 10 students, has partnered 30 companies and three local universities to match disabled students to internships across various industries.

“We adopt a merit-based approach — SG Enable secures internship opportunities with potential hosting companies and links them with suitably qualified students for placement interviews. Should the student be selected, SG Enable provides workplace support as needed to hosting companies and interns,” said SG Enable Chief Executive Ku Geok Boon.

The internship programme also aims to help students overcome barriers to entering the job market, such as a lack of employment opportunities or limited knowledge on how to seek gainful employment, which sometimes leads to underemployment.

Second-year National University of Singapore business student Ong Hua Han, 20, who also has brittle bone disease, was among SG Enable’s first batch of interns. He spent a month working in the Human Capital Tax Department at Ernst & Young — where Mr Seah is due to begin working full-time on July 7. “I believe my employment prospects are indeed more limited than others simply because not all workplaces are accessible to wheelchair users,” said Mr Ong.

To make the office more accessible to Mr Ong, minor changes were made to provide clear paths and enable easier access. The firm is also installing automatic doors in the toilets for Mr Seah, who lacks the strength to open doors.

Modifications to working environments need not be extensive, and some only require placing a printer near a wheelchair user or keeping walkways clear so a visually-impaired staff can walk safely, said Mrs Ku. She added that companies can tap Government schemes such as the Open Door Fund to defray the cost of making such workplace adjustments.

It is not only multinational corporations and government agencies that have opened their doors to students with disabilities. Acceltus, a small and medium enterprise with five employees, has hired hearing-impaired computer science undergrad Jeremiah Oon, 25, as an intern and he will join in May. To aid communication, Acceltus Director Loke Kit Kai is considering registering his staff for sign language courses.

 

source: todayonline.com

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