Do you think Singapore is ready for employment inclusiveness?
It is almost paradoxical to limit its definition. On one hand, workplace inclusiveness includes the acceptance of every individual's background and opinion.
On the other, you can see how it is about creating an environment that provides equal opportunities for everyone to work. This means that persons with diabilities should also be able to access and make use of the tools available to complete work tasks.
If it turns out well, we will have more potential for our resident labour force to grow.
Even as 3.4 per cent of residents aged 18-49 in Singapore have a disability, people with disabilities make up just 0.55 per cent of the total resident labour force.
There is space and opportunity for us to reach out more.
By focusing on talents and skillsets, the workplace should be easy for everyone and anyone to be a part of the team. How we can bring this ideal into reality today?
Here are some examples (not exhaustive) where Singapore is strengthening her employment inclusive in the workplace:
Designing an Assessment Tool for Organisations
Other than the Budget emphasis, much has been done to nurture a more welcoming environment. To raise the bar, SG Enable has a special accessment tool from Singapore Business Federation Foundation that can help employers discern if their work environment is ready to hire, retain and grow persons with disabilities as members of their organisation.
A tangible guideline is practical to point out specifc areas in which employers can improve on, making it easier to prepare and offer a condusive environement for new members to come on board.
Constantly Changing and Challenging Perceptions
Ryan Ng, founder of social enterprise Society Staples, puts it the best when he shares how the proliferation of glasses have destigmatised shortsightedness as a visual disability. Rather than a handicap, you might even see a pair of spectacles as a fashion accessory. This is an example of how changed mindsets can lift up negativity, and innovate on ways in which tools can be redesigned for use.
Another example comes from Volvo East Asia, where additional workplace facilities like automating doors and ramps have been promptly added for the convenience of wheelchair-users. Redesigning spaces hold a powerful key not only for inclusiveness to happen, but also to sustain.
Having said that, work culture is extremely important in retaining employees as well. Giving a little more attention to make sure that every individual's needs and concerns are addressed consistently will result in a longer term retention within the organisation. This is hard work that takes consistency and dedication.
The Role of Education in Employment Inclusiveness
Besides building up the right environment for persons with disabilities, you will probably agree to how sharpening the right skills is important as well. More than just a job, employment also gives you the joy and dignity of earning your own keep.
For many persons with disabilities who have not had the chance to work, employment can come across as a form of recognition, as their companies honour them not for anything but the skills they have to offer.
And as Nelson Mandela best puts it: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
Our team has been offering our creative programmes for persons with diabilities for the past 4 years. With an approximate 85% of our graduates finding employment upon graduation, we are heartened to be part of the journey to equip and nurture more creatives.
Here is Wen Jie's story of how he found his job at digital marketing after graduating from our programme:
Join us to get Singapore ready for employment inclusiveness
We are still works-in-progress, with many more areas to improve and grow in. If you believe in what we believe in, do join us and be part of the movement in these ways:
1. For Employers
Our graduates from Communication Design in Marketing, Digital Marketing and Website Design and E-commerce can help you and your team to build a higher capacity for the digital space. Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to arrange for a short chat to see how we can help connect and work together.
2. For Potential Students
If you have been wondering about what skills or courses to go for, why not think about what we have to offer? Our next intake for 2018 is in the coming November, and signing up is easy. Simply fill in the form here.
So, Singapore ready for employment inclusiveness?
With social service organisations facilitating consistent feedback, review and improvements, the communication and understanding from both potential employers and employees are likely to be strengthened significantly.
The rise in Social Enterprises in the recent years may also help to bridge the gap as well, as many social entrepreneurs are aware and committed to embed inclusive employment as part of their business objective.
A tangible framework like the assessment tool can also serve as a good reference point across organisations as well.
In the longer run, training programmes equip persons with disabilities with useful skillsets for employment in the future of work.
From here, we may have a long journey ahead to make employment inclusiveness the new normal. Singapore is on good ground to build up a solid foundation for inclusiveness to take root and flourish for many years to come.