Three 'Es' to prepare disabled people for work

SINGAPORE - It is heartening to learn of the spike in employers' interest in hiring disabled people ("Firms hiring more ex-offenders, disabled"; last Thursday).

Preparing the disabled for gainful employment involves three important phases: empowerment, emplacement and employment.

First, to empower a disabled person for work, one must assess his aptitude and attitude in terms of the required content knowledge and employability skills, analyse his profile to see if he is ready and suitable for the job, and adjust employer expectations.

Preparatory training could involve teaching essential skills such as basic literacy and numeracy, and employability skills such as knowledge of workplace safety and the ability to work as a team.

Second, emplacement involves placing the disabled person in a job that best matches his employability profile.

This involves assigning the person appropriate tasks, being aware of his occupational knowledge and ability to perform the given job, and providing sufficient time and supervision for him to adapt to workplace conditions.

Job emplacement will give disabled people first-hand workplace experience, so they will know what is expected of them and whether they are suitable for the job.

The third phase, employment, involves disabled workers applying what they have been empowered to do and what they have learnt during the job emplacement stage, adopting best practices as part of their repertoire of skills, and assimilating into the workplace culture.

But others must play a part as well.

Long-term employment can work only if disabled people are accepted by their peers in the workplace, and this has to begin with the top management.

Finally, continual evaluation of each of the three phases is essential for the process to work and for good rapport to be established between disabled employees and their bosses.

- Noel Chia Kok Hwee (Dr)