SINGAPORE: Some S$30 million will be set aside for a fund that helps companies hire people with disabilities.
Companies can tap the fund to redesign jobs or modify infrastructure to make the workplace more conducive for people with special needs.
This was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing as he unveiled the new Open Door Programme, which facilitates the hiring of disabled people.
The fund primarily comes from Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and supplemented by Ministry of Social and Family Development.
70 per cent of the staff in Alfresco Café at Siloso Beach Resort are people with disabilities.
Tan Shun Li, who works as a waiter at the café, said: "The guest sometimes give me tips. The guests like me to work here.”
Karl Fischer, manager of CSR at Siloso Beach Resort, said: "We're trying to change mindsets. We don't put out staff with disabilities somewhere hidden in the department behind the scenes where no one is going to see them.
“We try to give them meaningful positions - even frontline positions where they'll be very visible and interacting with the guests."
Siloso Beach Resort is one of the recipients of the Enabling Employers Awards, which recognises companies and individuals for facilitating the employment of people with disabilities.
With the new Open Door Programme, the government hopes to encourage more employers to hire workers with special needs.
Previously, the programme allows companies to receive funding of up to S$5,000 per employee for training and job redesign purposes.
The cap for each company is S$100,000, which means that a firm could hire only 20 disabled people.
This cap has now been removed.
Mr Chan said: "For employers, it will support consultancy, training and other efforts aimed at bringing persons with disabilities into the workplace and raising their effectiveness.
“For example, an employer can receive funding to organise training for their wider workforce to learn how to better interact with and accommodate colleagues with special needs.
"Employers can apply for funding support for job redesign, workplace accommodation, continuous training and so on for employees with disabilities for as long as they are with the company."
Employees are also set to benefit from this programme, which will help them to stay or advance in their jobs.
Mr Chan said: "Today, it is not easy for persons with disabilities to engage in continuing education and training (CET) due to the lack of training providers or courses that cater to their needs.
“SG Enable will work with training providers and VWOs to identify suitable CET courses and develop customised curricula or delivery methods tailored for persons with disabilities.
“The Open Door Programme will also provide funding to defray course fees and the opportunity costs of attending CET."
The programme is set to benefit some 4,000 people with disabilities and 1,000 employers, with about 2,500 individuals receiving direct job placement and support.
The minister also noted that a collective effort from welfare organisations and Special Education schools to supervisors and co-workers is needed to change the employment landscape for people with disabilities. - CNA/xq
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