The Singapore government is encouraging companies to hire Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) by introducing the Employment Support for Employers to hire Persons with Disabilities, as well as the Enabling Employment Credit (EEC) and Open Door Programme (ODP) grants and benefits. Furthermore, the job placement programmes from organisations like SG Enable, SPD (Serving People with Disabilities), and CPAS (Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore) are here to match the most suitable candidates to the company's requirements.
You must be wondering why I am mentioning all these facts and details. It’s simply because I am one of the beneficiaries of the placement programmes. Because of these schemes, companies are willing to redesign job scopes so that individuals like me can work effectively.
Job Redesign Grant for Employee/s with Disabilities
I am happy to tell you about my company Mybeautystory, an online e-commerce store that is open to redesigning my job for me. Currently, I do all customer service via Chatbox and WhatsApp because I have speech difficulties. I would like to commend them for providing me with a larger computer screen and a compact keyboard with keyguards so that I can work more efficiently. Due to my uncontrollable hand movements, I have difficulty typing with a normal keyboard, so my company purchased the special keyboard for me with up to 90% of the equipment cost claimable by my company (capped at $20,000 per company). For this, I am extremely grateful.
In addition, I am under a training programme by a potential employer (Blk.SG Pte Ltd). They provide training first using the training scheme to waive 90% off the training fees. At the same time, I get an allowance of $6 per hour for attending the class, and another 10% off the course fees, which the company pays for us. So, after training, they will assign real jobs to us.
If you are curious about where I got all this information from, you can click below.
In my opinion, it is good to see many companies giving more employment opportunities to PWDs. Although the government and organisations are working hard to help companies to hire PWDs, I still feel perhaps many companies are still not aware or are not ready to hire PWDs.
Here are some possible reasons why companies are hesitant to hire PWDs and my thoughts on them:
Assumptions that some companies may have about PWDs
Uncertain if PWDs can do the job
Companies are worried that because of their disabilities, PWDs may not be able to do certain jobs. For example, I cannot handle products with my hands so I cannot do packaging or handling an inventory management system. Like what my company Mybeautystory is doing, my boss will send me a WhatsApp message, writing down the stock quantity for me to update the online selling platforms. So, this is how some companies are willing to change the job scope a little, allocate suitable job scopes, and redesign tasks for mutual benefit.
B. Taking a longer time to complete a task
Companies may assume the disabled need more time to complete a task and
I agree that I need more time to do certain tasks. However, doing it fast does not mean it is always a good thing. We may take time to do certain things, but we also do quality work. In my case, my company does not mind how long I take to do it, but they want me to be able to manage my time doing the job. I will ask them which are the urgent ones, so I do those first. If the company is willing to see that not every task needs to be done fast but that time management is more important, it would be beneficial to PWDs.
C. Are more likely to job-hop
Companies may be worried that PWDs just work for a few days then change jobs, but I think this does not only happen with PWDs; abled Singaporeans do that too. This is why the government encourages remote work or flexible working hours to benefit the workers who need it. Like now, I am looking for more freelance jobs even though I have a contract job from Mybeautystory. To me, I am not quitting this job as I would rather gain more real work experience in digital marketing as I completed a course on it recently. It is also going to be a great career change for me, so I think that it is all right for employees to look for a job that is suitable for them and gives them better prospects. Therefore, companies should try to look into how to make changes to the job scope according to the employees’ capabilities or requirements. Yes, the companies pay the employees, but employees also help companies to make money or to run the business so both sides need to give and take and come out with solutions that work for both.
Now in the 21st Century when everything is changing, companies may need to implement ‘working smart rather than working hard’ attitudes in their work environment. Being open-minded to hiring different groups of people and exploring their potential may help the companies to perform better.
Companies Supporting PWDs
It is also encouraging to read how some companies are implementing measures to accommodate PWDs. For example, the Vulcan Post lists some companies in Singapore that adopt inclusive hiring policies to ensure equal opportunities for PWDs:
1. ‘Dining in the Dark’ is an experimental event organised by the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) to raise public awareness of the challenges that persons with vision impairment face in their daily lives.
2. United Overseas Bank (UOB) launched an ’inclusive employment’ initiative in May 2013, that offers career opportunities to persons with special needs. It started hiring people with autism, as well as those with hearing impairments, to work at UOB Scan Hub.
3. The National Library Board (NLB) in 2016 signed a five-year partnership with the Autism Resource Centre (ARC) to employ those with special needs to convert old library materials into a digital form for the public database. These individuals also had to undergo training to do scanning and other digitizing tasks at the Digital Services Centre in the Enabling Village in Redhill. (https://vulcanpost.com/671599/singapore-companies-hire-persons-with-disabilities/)
With such initiatives, this increases awareness towards the struggles we face and develops empathy towards PWDs in the community.
Suggestions to create more awareness
A. Using social media
We can have YouTube ads to promote SG Enable thus creating more awareness while publishing posts in the media or on social media to show the benefits that the government is introducing to hire PWDs.
B. Organise campaigns or events to promote these schemes
In addition to conducting career fairs or job fairs, we can also create events to introduce these schemes to companies and perhaps even include PWDs to reach out to companies.
C. Create or expand a team with more manpower to do this
I suggest that organisations hire more staff to do job-matching for PWDs. They can also include some PWDs to help other PWDs as they may understand better what PWDs need and what challenges they have to go through. This could also convince the employers whom we reach out to as they interact directly with a PWD.
Overall, I can see some companies doing a lot to advocate for PWDs within the workplace but many companies are still unaware or unwilling to change their employment styles. I hope more companies realise that PWDs when given the opportunity, are just as able to contribute greatly to their business.