Special needs students to gain work experience at McDonald's

Special needs students to gain work experience at McDonald's

SINGAPORE - A pilot work programme for special needs students at fast-food chain McDonald's has been made permanent to give more of them experience in carrying out tasks such as cleaning dining areas, packing condiments and greeting customers.

In the programme with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds), seven McDonald's outlets will train 23 students from four Minds schools between now and the end of the year. Thirteen of them started on Wednesday.

"We want to expose them to a real working environment outside the classroom. This is where they learn to communicate, take instructions from supervisors and communicate with colleagues," said Minds chief executive officer Keh Eng Song at the launch on Monday.

Each attachment will last two to four weeks and students aged 16 to 18 years old will work at the McDonald's restaurant nearest their schools.

They will work four hours daily three to four days a week. Their teachers will be at the restaurants to support them throughout.

The pilot in August last year took in six students. Four have graduated from Minds and found jobs in the hospitality and food and beverage sectors.

"The six students from the pilot programme performed well in our restaurants and the students and teachers said they benefited greatly from the experience.

"Hence, we decided to launch this long-term work attachment programme to provide opportunities to more Minds students," said Ms Phyllis Cheung, managing director of McDonald's Restaurants, Singapore.

McDonald's is one of 10 companies that include restaurant chains KFC and Han's and the Holiday Inn - where students work in the cleaning and stewarding departments - partnering Minds to offer student work attachments.

Minds said it would place students in 88 work attachment opportunities this year, up from 61 last year.

As of March this year, Minds had 926 students enrolled in its special education schools.

Student Benedict Chong, 16, who participated in last year's pilot programme at McDonald's, is excited to start a second round this month. His mother, Madam June Lee, 52, said: "He's already so independent but I think this programme helps to enhance his independence... I'm hoping that after he graduates, McDonald's will employ him."

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg


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