Monday, 19 September 2016

SkillsFuture awards open to people with disabilities

They can apply for study grants to upgrade their skills and adjust to changing workplace
By Amelia Teng, The Sunday Times, 18 Sep 2016

People with disabilities and the job coaches and professionals who support them can now take up SkillsFuture Study Awards to upgrade their skills.

Applications for the awards - which are managed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency - opened yesterday and will be open until December for the first phase. Further application windows will open next year.

At a training and career fair held by SG Enable yesterday, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin announced that the awards have been expanded to include people in the disabled community. SG Enable is an agency which provides services such as job-matching and training for the disabled.

In a speech, Mr Tan said people with disabilities need to continually upgrade their skills and adjust to the changing workplace.

"The SkillsFuture movement is our commitment to help every Singaporean, regardless of ability, to upgrade and achieve their aspirations," he said.

SG Enable will accept applications for study awards in two categories. The first is for people with disabilities who have shown resilience in learning and working towards achieving their full potential.

The second is for job coaches and professionals who support those with disabilities in employment.

Each recipient will receive $5,000, which can be used to defray expenses for courses such as local and overseas training programmes, bachelor and master's degrees and specialist diplomas.

For those in the second category, courses should be related to understanding disabilities, career education, career counselling and workforce development.

Plans for the awards were announced in February by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as part of the Government's efforts to encourage the employment of people with disabilities.

Mr Ambrose Lim, 26, who has severe sight problems because of a genetic disorder, wants to apply for the study award to help with the cost of a part-time business degree from SIM University, which will start in January next year.

"I want to upgrade myself, from a diploma to a degree, and also have more job security," said Mr Lim, an administrator at the Singapore Environment Council. He has a diploma in business management from Singapore Polytechnic.

Yesterday, Mr Tan also presented certificates to 11 people with disabilities from the Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore (MDAS) who had finished a seven-month job-training scheme where they learnt design skills such as with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

One of them, Mr Muhammad Saifudeen Abdul Salim, 19, is now considering furthering his studies in design and becoming a graphic designer. He is now working, on a contract basis, on projects such as photo-editing and designing fliers.

"After primary school, I was not confident about studying. So I stayed at home for four years doing nothing, until my sister pushed me to go to MDAS," said the 19-year-old, who has muscular dystrophy. "I am more hopeful about the future now."

More than 200 training and job openings in areas such as retail and food and beverage were on offer at the job fair yesterday at the Enabling Village, a community space in Redhill dedicated to integrating people with disabilities into society.

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