The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced today a suite of new initiatives to enhance the support for persons with disabilities and their families, across their life stages. These efforts will further support MSF’s vision to empower persons with disabilities to achieve their potential and participate as integral and contributing members of our society.
Progress under the Third Enabling Masterplan
2. The first Enabling Masterplan was launched in 2007 to serve as roadmaps for Singapore to build a more inclusive society for persons with disabilities. Since2007, we have progressively put in place more support for persons with disabilities at every stage of their lives, and to smoothen the transition between life stages, such as from one’s schooling years into the workforce. We are currently on our Third Enabling Masterplan (EMP3), under which significant improvements have been made in areas such as early intervention, early childhood education and schooling. The public can learn more about these developments through a new website go.gov.sg/emp-microsite
Recommendations and Initiatives Arising from the Workgroups on Employment andIndependent Living
3. Two EMP3 Workgroups, on Preparing Persons with Disabilities for the Future Economy (“Employment Workgroup”), and the other on Promoting Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities through Technology and Design (“Independent Living Workgroup”)were launched in 2019 to develop recommendations in the areas of employment and independent living. Over the past two years, the Workgroups consulted and engaged close to 300 persons with disabilities, their family members and caregivers, and disability social service agencies (SSAs). They have now completed their work and released their recommendations. Further background information on the two Workgroups can be found at Annex A-1. The Government is supportive of these recommendations, and had begun implementing some of them over the past year.
4. One key initiative arising from the Employment Workgroup recommendations, is MSF’s plan to pilot the development of Enabling Business Hubs (EBH).
a. Many persons with disabilities are capable of work.But some may need customised support, such as on-site job support and a structured environment to work in. Persons with disabilities and their caregivers had shared with the Employment Workgroup that they would like more opportunities for supported employment, closer to where they live.
b. Going forward, MSF will pilot the development of anEBH where inclusive employers will offer employment and on-the-job training to persons with disabilities. These hubs will be equipped with customised facilities and services, including on-site job coach support. The EBH pilot is expected to be operational from 2023 onwards.
5. A key initiative arising from the Independent Living Workgroup recommendations, is the push to further identify and address accessibility gaps in the built environment through two new community partnership groups.
a. While there have been continual efforts to enhance accessibility in the built environment, including through the Building Construction Authority’s (BCA) Code onAccessibility in the Built Environment and BCA’s Accessibility Fund, persons with disabilities had shared that there are still areas that can be made more accessible, such as last mile gaps in barrier-free accessibility, especially in areas within the city centre where there are older developments.
b. Two community partnership groups will be set up later this year to identify and address accessibility gaps in the Central Business District, and in a Housing & Development Board (HDB) town. There will be opportunities for interested individuals and organisations to participate in the accessibility audits. Details will be shared later.
6. These two EMP3 Workgroups have developed 21 recommendations in total, which will be implemented progressively over the next few years. The Employment Workgroup’s 10 recommendations seek to better prepare students with special educational needs for employment, create new employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, support them in upgrading their skills, and better recognise and incentivise inclusive employers. The Independent Living Workgroup’s 11 recommendations are focused on improving accessibility in the built environment, ensuring access to information and services, increasing adoption of assistive technology, and raising awareness of disability and promoting inclusion. The full list of recommendations, and joint initiatives in response to these recommendations, can be found in Annex A-2 and Annex A-3.
7. Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health, said “At the heart of these recommendations, is a vision for an inclusive society, one in which everyone knows that they belong. These recommendations underscore MSF’s commitment to helping persons with disabilities and their families, from their early years, through the schooling years, and into adulthood. Our aim is to create amore caring and inclusive society that enables every person to fulfil their potential. MSF looks forward to working closely together with our partners to implement these recommendations.”
8. Apart from the recommendations by these Workgroups, MSF will also announce other measures later this month to enhance support for (i) families of persons with disabilities with higher support needs, including those who require care services, and (ii) children with developmental needs. These measures underscore our commitment to support and empower persons with disabilities at every stage of life. Through the collective effort and close partnership of the people, private and public sectors, we can build a stronger, more inclusive and caring society in Singapore.
ANNEX A-4 LIST OF MEMBERS OF THE WORKGROUP ON PREPARING PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES FOR THE FUTURE ECONOMY, AND WORKGROUP ON PROMOTING INDEPENDENT LIVING OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN
ANNEX A-1 BACKGROUND ON ENABLING MASTERPLAN WORKGROUPS ON (I) EMPLOYMENT, AND (II)INDEPENDENT LIVING
1. The EMP3 Workgroups on Preparing Persons with Disabilities for the Future Economy (“Employment Workgroup”), and on Promoting Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities through Technology and Design (“Independent Living Workgroup”) were launched in 2019 to develop recommendations in the areas of employment and independent living.
2. Based on the Ministry of Manpower’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, the average employment rate1 for resident persons with disabilities in the working ages of 15 to 64 is around 29%. The average unemployment rate2 of resident persons with disabilities aged 15 to 64 was 11.7%, higher than the unemployment rate of 4.7% for non-persons with disabilities.
3. To further support the employment of persons with disabilities, the first Workgroup on Preparing Persons with Disabilities for the Future Economy, co-chaired by Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health Masagos Zulkifli, and President of the Autism Resource Centre Denise Phua, developed recommendations to improve the employability of persons with disabilities and better prepare them for the future economy. The Workgroup has also worked with agencies to provide input to the specific initiatives to be implemented in response to these recommendations.
4. The report lays out the Workgroup’s recommendations in three key areas
a. Improving capabilities at all life stages;
b. Creating and sustaining work opportunities;
c. Recognising and incentivising employers.
5. The second Workgroup on Promoting Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities through Technology and Design is co-chaired by Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health Masagos Zulkifli and Board Advisory Panel member of SPD Chia Yong Yong. The Workgroup has developed recommendations, and worked with agencies toco-create specific initiatives, to improve the ability of persons with disabilities to live independently, by leveraging technology and design.
6. The report lays out the Workgroup’s recommendations in four key areas
a. Improving accessibility in built environment and transportation;
b. Ensuring access to information and services;
c. Adopting assistive technology to support self-care at home and connecting to community; and
d. Raising awareness of disability and promoting inclusion.
7. Some of the recommendations have already been implemented, and other recommendations will be progressively implemented from the second half of 2021. A summary of the recommendations can be found in Annex A-2 and Annex A-3.
1 Based on MOM’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, the average resident employment rate for persons with disabilities aged 15-64 was 28.2% in 2018-2019 and 29.0% in 2019-2020. The use of two-year moving averages is to smoothen out year on year fluctuations due to the relatively small number of persons with disabilities. Data is not seasonally adjusted.
2 Based on MOM’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, the average unemployment rate for resident persons with disabilities aged 15-64 who was 11.2% in 2018-2019 and 11.7% in 2019-2020. The use of two-year moving averages is to smoothen out year on year fluctuations due to the relatively small number of persons with disabilities. Data is not seasonally adjusted.
ANNEX A-2 SUMMARY OF KEY THEMES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE REPORT BY THEWORKGROUP ON PREPARING PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES FOR THE FUTURE ECONOMY
|Improving capabilities at all life stages
1. Stronger emphasis on the development of soft skills, and training in authentic work settings, as part of strengthening vocational education curriculum in SPED schools
Ministry of Education (MOE) will revise the vocational education curriculum in Special Education (SPED) schools to further emphasise the intentional development of soft skills for work. Ample opportunities should be provided for all students to train in authentic work settings so that they can better develop these skills.
2. Strengthen capability of Transition Planning Coordinators, improve the post-school transition, and provide new work preparatory initiatives for persons with disabilities as they transit from school to work
In 2020, MOE launched a course for Transition Planning Coordinators (TPCs) to enhance their capability in implementing Individual Transition Planning for SPED students towards post-school pathways.
MOE partnered the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to prototype a Multi-Agency Transition Meeting approach in 2019 to promote person-centred handovers in students’ transition to post-school pathways. This will be scaled up to involve all SPED schools by 2022.
The School-to-Work (S2W) Transition Programme has been extended from the current one year to up to two years from January 2021. This will provide students with more support to transition from school to work.
Students with disabilities in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will also be better supported by SG Enable through new work preparatory initiatives which were rolled out from 2020.
3. Strengthen the ecosystem for continuing education for persons with disabilities, including through increasing the number of curated courses in sectors with growth opportunities, and enhance the Open Door Programme (ODP) Training Grant to offer better support in specialised training
The ODP Training Grant was enhanced in July 2020 to provide stronger funding support to employers who send their employees with disabilities for training, as well as persons with disabilities seeking to upgrade themselves.
SG Enable is also working with training partners to introduce more new courses catering to persons with disabilities.
4. Build on the ‘Digital for Life’ movement to rally industry and the community to equip persons with disabilities with digital literacy skills that are relevant and competency-based
SG Enable will work with Social Service Agencies (SSAs), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to identify the digital competencies that persons with disabilities require. This will facilitate the curation of courses for the disability community.
|Creating and sustaining workopportunities
5. Pilot new programmes to create work for persons with disabilities
Persons with disabilities could be supported to set up microbusinesses with their caregivers or other appropriate adults. Initiatives such as “Noodles for Good” indicate such models can work with the right partners.
SG Enable is trialling more projects, under the i’mable Collective 3 , which provides greater visibility for social service agencies and social enterprises to effectively showcase products created by persons with disabilities.
6. Develop Employment Hubs with accessible facilities where employers and persons with disabilities can tap on shared services like job coaches
MSF will explore the development of Enabling Business Hubs (EBH) in regional centres to offer training and employment, shared facilities and services to persons with disabilities and their employers, such as job coaches. The first EBH is expected to be operational from 2023 onwards.
7. Build up capabilities of Disability Employment Professionals to serve broader spectrum of needs and disabilities of students from both SPED schools and Institutes of Higher Learning
SG Enable is working with SSAs and IHLs, to build up the capabilities and industry knowledge of Disability Employment Professionals (DEPs). These include job coaches, IHL Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support Officers, HR professionals, and therapists.
SG Enable launched a Training Roadmap for DEPs in August 2020.
Recognising and incentivising employers
8. Increase recognition of inclusive employers
SG Enable launched the Enabling Mark on 8 October 2020. The Mark is a national-level accreditation framework that benchmarks and recognises organisations for the best practices and outcomes in disability-inclusive employment.
9. Enhance wage offsets to employers of persons with disabilities
MOM has introduced the Enabling Employment Credit (EEC) from January 2021, which will provide wage offsets of up to 30% for eligible employers of persons with disabilities.
10. Build up a library of resources that employers and co-workers can tap on to create an inclusive workplace
SG Enable will continue to engage and raise awareness among employers and co-workers, to build a more inclusive work environment and culture. This will include featuring success stories of inclusive employers and employees contributing and thriving at work.
3 The i’mable Collective is a multi-sectoral platform that fosters meaningful collaborations between artists, craftmakers, designers, enterprises and persons with disabilities to develop quality merchandise, to create enterprise opportunities with a vision for a viable market of goods and services created by/with persons with disabilities, supporting their meaningful engagement and employment.
ANNEX A-3 SUMMARY OF KEY THEMES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE REPORT BY THEWORKGROUP ON PROMOTING INDEPENDENT LIVING OF PERSONS WITHDISABILITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN
Improving accessibility in built environment and transportation
1.Systematically improve barrier-free access and wayfinding
Two community partnership groups to be set up by 1H2021 as a start, one looking at the accessibility gaps in the Central Business District, and another looking at the accessibility gaps in a Housing & Development Board (HDB) town.
2. Develop barrier-free navigation feature in map applications
OneMap will be progressively enhanced from 2022 onwards, to include barrier-free point-to-point navigation, starting with six specific locales Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Punggol, River Valley, Singapore River and Tanglin.
3. Enhance commuter experience in the public transport system for persons with disabilities
The Government will continue to build a more caring and inclusive land transport system through ongoing efforts under the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 and Caring SG Commuters Movement. Public Transport Council will conduct a survey later this year, to seek feedback on travel experience from persons with special needs/disability and their caregivers.
Ensuring access to information and services
4. Build capability needed to enhance accessibility of websites and applications
More Government websites to be compliant with Web Content Accessible Guidelines (WCAG), an internationally adopted standard which ensures digital accessibility for persons with disability. Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) has started automated testing of websites this year.
A new programme, Consumer Inclusiveness workshop for e- accessibility