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Coming out of the shadows
PAN Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG) is a strong supporter of SG Enable's efforts to promote disability inclusion in the workplace. It was the first and to date the only hotel employer to support the agency's school-to-work transition programme with a pilot run in 2017 at Pan Pacific Singapore. The programme provides a structured approach to inclusive hiring, with a job coach supporting the students daily during the training phase.
Five students were recruited under the programme and four were offered employment contracts with the hotel at the end of the training programme last year. They are now serving as either full-time or part-time employees. The group has continued to support the programme and continues to recruit trainees.
"As one of Singapore's largest home-grown hotel management companies, inclusive hiring is part of Pan Pacific Hotels Group's people strategy; we are committed to enabling individuals with disabilities and providing meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities in our properties. PPHG recognises that persons with disabilities can contribute effectively to a workplace through their strengths and abilities," said Wee Wei Ling, executive director (asset & lifestyle) at PPHG. The group owns or manages 40 hotels, resorts and serviced suites with more than 12,000 rooms.
On top of that, PPHG has participated in SG Enable's Job Shadowing Day for the past two years, providing Special Education (SPED) students the opportunity to be attached to Pan Pacific Serviced Suites for a day. Inspired by the initiative, the Serviced Suites offered traineeships to more than 20 special needs students in a span of 14 months. This year, the group introduced a four-month "Work Experience Programme" for students from MINDS Lee Kong Chian Gardens School.
The programme was tailored to each student's vocational profiles and needs, and saw each student being assigned to a dedicated mentor from the company to "shadow". Under the close guidance of the supervisors, the trainees were guided through housekeeping basics such as dusting and wiping of surfaces before they progressed to more complex tasks, including the making of beds and freshening up of bathrooms.
"We had to educate our workforce to understand, work alongside and embrace colleagues with disabilities. SG Enable provides help in this aspect through workshops and by facilitating trips to special education schools," said Ms Wee.
One person who was recruited by PPHG following Job Shadowing Day was 19-year-old Nur Alfian Hakim Bin Halim. He now works full-time as a housekeeping attendant at Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road after a three-month job attachment programme.
Hakim first found making of the bed to be difficult, as he had to tuck in the sheets under heavy mattresses. However, he gradually gained confidence with the support of his mentor. According to Ms Wee, he is now able to carry out his assigned tasks independently and looks forward to going to work every day.
The buddy system adopted by Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road was instrumental in building up Hakim's confidence to carry out his role.
Meanwhile, Brenda Tay, who worked in the uniform room at Pan Pacific Singapore for seven months after a nine-month training stint, said that her work has helped her grow in confidence and earn an income which allows her to buy dresses for her mother and shoes for her nephew.
Ms Wee noted that inclusive hiring benefits not only the PPHG's colleagues with special needs, but also existing employees. Over time, the company has been able to build a more caring workforce, which has tremendous benefits for a largely guest-facing company.
She said: "Diversity at our workplace has improved our corporate culture and resulted in better staff culture, loyalty and morale. It has made work life more enriching and meaningful for our associates, many of whom have gone beyond their scopes to take on additional roles as mentors."