People with disabilities to get help to find jobs, live independently
Govt accepts recommendations by two work groups and will pilot hubs offering support like job coaching
After graduating from the Institute of Technical Education in December 2018, Mr Elliot Goh was looking for a job.
Seeking assistance, Mr Goh, who has autism spectrum disorder, joined the Autism Resource Centre's Employability and Employment Centre (E2C) in October 2019.
He faced some challenges initially, but with the support of job coaches and family, he found one last month as a digital services assistant at the National Library Board.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Goh, 21, said: "The job coaches gave me clear instructions so that I could understand my work better and learn from my mistakes."
People with special needs will be given more targeted help to secure and stay in jobs as well as move about on their own.
There are 21 recommendations by two work groups on topics such as barrier-free accessibility, digital inclusion, bringing job support services to the heartland and strengthening the soft skills curriculum in special education schools.
They come after consultations over two years with about 300 people with disabilities, their families and caregivers and disability social service agencies.
Accepting the recommendations, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli announced yesterday that there are plans to pilot the development of enabling business hubs at regional centres.
These hubs will offer support in the form of training, shared facilities and services like job coaching and employment.
The first hub is expected to be operational from 2023.
"What we want to do is to put these hubs closer to where people with disabilities live," said Mr Masagos at the Enabling Village in Bukit Merah, where E2C is located.
Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua, who is co-chair of the employment work group, said: "The space of employability and employment for persons with disabilities has always been very challenging.
"What we found out from the work group is that there are indeed root causes that contribute to lower employment rates for people with disabilities."
In the area of independent living, the Building and Construction Authority and the Housing Board will set up two community partnership groups later this year - one to identify and address accessibility gaps in the Central Business District and the other looking at the gaps in an HDB town.
When asked what these gaps are, Ms Chia Yong Yong, co-chair of the independent living work group, said it is important to first understand what the "living" in independent living means.
"Living is about dignity and having community and relationships," said Ms Chia, who was the first wheelchair-using MP when she was appointed a Nominated MP in 2014.
"What we want to achieve is for people at home to move about on their own with minimal reliance on others and for them to go out and relate with others as their equal."