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Giving a leg-up to youths with disabilities

A 2-year pilot project gives young adults with intellectual disabilities a shot at finding employment

Participants in the Project IN initiative are given a chance to develop their soft and life skills. This photo shows them piecing a jigsaw puzzle together to build teamwork and learn problem solving skills.

SG Enable is collaborating with the Singapore Business Federation Foundation (SBFF) in an initiative that seeks to help young adults with intellectual disabilities and autism boost their chances of landing a job.

Known as Project IN, the two-year pilot programme provides support to students from five Special Education (SPED) Schools through internships and on-the-job learning. It is expected to benefit around 50 such individuals in total.

Participants are given a chance to develop their soft and life skills, undergo real work experience to acquire vocational or job task skills in different job roles. Interns generally undergo a two-month orientation and induction programme before embarking on a nine-month internship at their designated internship workplaces.

For a start, 19 young adults are on internships with three employers: restaurant chain Han's, National University Hospital and Sentosa Development Corporation. All interns will be supported in their job search and employment efforts during, or nearing and at the end of their internships.

The project also helps employers to build their capabilities and know-how when it comes to hiring and working with persons with disabilities (PWDs). This allows them to tap PWDs as an alternative manpower source, and help build an inclusive workforce.

"The programme adopts a holistic approach comprising features like group internships, onsite job coaching and job support, and onsite learning. Participating employers will be supported to build up their disability confidence, and be enabled to hire and tap persons with disabilities as an alternative manpower source, and as part of their inclusive workforce," said SG Enable.

According to SBFF, "the programme meets an important service gap to empower and enable young persons with disabilities to be work ready and integrate into the workforce. The programme would help build an inclusive society and meet the business community's need for manpower labour".

SBFF was established by SBF in 2013, in response to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call for businesses to be more engaged in corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR) to strengthen Singapore's social compact. In promoting CSR among the business community, SBFF collaborates with Singapore-based companies to assist the underprivileged and disadvantaged workers, as well as support education and training for the disadvantaged youth.

"SBFF aims to enable and encourage contributions from the business community for the social, vocational and educational upliftment of all in Singapore. Its vision is to promote a compassionate and pro-active business community, playing its part to build an inclusive Singapore," the foundation said on its website.

Apart from Project IN, other SBFF initiatives include an Overseas Industrial Attachment Programme with the Institute of Technical Education, the EQUAL-ARK Programme with the Equestrian Federation of Singapore and the SBF Foundation Scholarship at the Singapore University of Technology & Design. Since its founding, the foundation has provided scholarships, internships, soft-skills coaching and overseas industrial attachments for more than 400 young adults across four programmes.

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