AS WE observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with one of the themes being Creating Enabling Working Environments, we are reminded of the valuable contributions persons with disabilities can make to the workforce.
Persons with disabilities who are meaningfully engaged and sustained in employment gain self-reliance and a sense of self-worth.
However, they are often not considered for employment, owing to negative perceptions of their ability to contribute or the high cost of accommodating their disabilities.
As we reflect on our nation's initiatives, with the recommendations of the Enabling Masterplan, an Open Door Fund was launched to "encourage employers to create job opportunities for persons with disabilities by supporting companies to redesign jobs, modify workplaces and provide paid internships".
As part of the value-chain employment framework initiative that comprised vocational assessment, training, job placement and support, persons with disabilities worked towards Workforce Skills Qualifications certification to equip themselves with skills for open employment.
Moreover, the Enabling Employers Network, an alliance of committed employers, was established to "champion and advance the employment opportunities for persons with disabilities".
Going forward, employers must go beyond the mere hiring of persons with disabilities, and actively promote a workplace culture that is accessible, inclusive and nurturing, through training opportunities, to allow these workers to fully realise their potential.
Assistive technology and information and communications technology have not been fully harnessed for persons with disabilities. The Internet of Things has the potential to improve work environments for these people.
I hope our Smart Nation initiative adopts concrete measures to "enable" persons with disabilities through inclusive innovation.
William Tan Kian Meng (Dr)