Singapore

Job redesign helps special needs workers

New guide can help firms become more inclusive

Autism is not a barrier when cafe worker Carmen Tan serves customers with a smile.

Ms Tan, 23, is thriving at speciality coffee company Foreword Coffee, thanks in part to the way the firm has accommodated her with initiatives such as printing laminated instructions, simplifying processes and providing job flexibility.

Foreword Coffee, which is a social enterprise, was one of the examples cited in a job redesign guide developed by SG Enable in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to help firms become more inclusive.

The guide was launched yesterday at Foreword Coffee's outlet in Dhoby Ghaut.

The company hires 14 people with disabilities ranging from autism to hearing impairment across its three cafes.

Foreword Coffee director Nadi Chan said: "It goes beyond a job. We are also improving and enriching their lives beyond the workplace, like their social skills and motor skills, for instance."

Job redesigning involves reviewing work responsibilities and environments, simplifying processes and developing solutions that can improve an employee's performance and safety.

Some examples include job carving, where specific tasks are created for the individual, job sharing for people working part-time and colour coding work desks for easy recall.

Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad said at the launch: "I think we have reached that point of maturity that we should be able to look at job redesign to help persons with special needs be employable and help the community to uplift themselves."

He pointed to grants and support for employers to hire those with special needs, such as the Open Door Programme, a government-funded initiative by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and Workforce Singapore.

Around 750 companies hired about 2,000 people with special needs from January 2016 to March this year.

Employment