Enabling the disabled

The Business Times
View From The Top
Published: 05th May 2014

What has been your organisation’s experience in hiring people with disabilities?
Does the new Open Door Programme go far enough to help the disabled with employment?

I HAVE always been a firm believer of teaching people how to “fish”, and it is perhaps even more crucial that people with disabilities are given enough opportunities to be self-reliant. As it is, they have to face physical limitations everyday of their lives so hopefully, being gainfully employed will help them be more independent and in turn, help them lead more fulfilling lives.

The new Open Door Programme is a big step forward towards this cause, and I am glad that the government has pledged a very significant sum this time – $30 million – to support the employment of
people with disabilities. But it is only for three years. What happens after that? Hopefully, the government will build on this programme and roll out even more comprehensive measures later on.

The fund allows for practical and useful initiatives such as providing assistance for direct job placement, while incentivising companies to hire the disabled by giving employers financial assistance in several areas such as job redesign, staff training and renovating the workplace to accommodate those with disabilities.

But alleviating employers’ financial considerations is one thing. For this programme to be truly effective, many bosses will require a major mindset change to be open-minded enough to undertake the added trouble of redesigning jobs and the workplace just to accommodate a small percentage of their workforce, if any. I understand that the programme will also concentrate on generating more awareness among bosses about this cause. I do hope that the awareness extends beyond the dissemination of information pertaining to the application of funds for such activities but also helps bosses create a paradigm shift so that they can appreciate the bigger picture; that this initiative is about caring for humanity and it is the direction that we need to take towards becoming an egalitarian society.
Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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