Infocomm Technology and Office Skills Training Help Increase Employability of People with Disabilities

SINGAPORE, 14 October 2014 – In a ceremony held at the SPD Ability Centre this morning, 20 people with disabilities were presented with certificates for completing the Infocomm Accessibility Centre Certificate in Office Skills (ICOS), a vocational training programme offered by SPD (formerly the Society for the Physically Disabled) with the support of programme partner, info-communications provider, StarHub.

The six-month programme was first offered by the Infocomm Accessibility Centre managed by SPD in July 2013. The vocational training programme equips people with disabilities with the necessary skills for administrative positions such as infocomm technology (ICT), use of office equipment as well as work preparation and personal effectiveness. Among the twenty five modules are seven ICT modules which are accredited by the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification Employability Framework.

With further support from SPD’s Employment Support Programme (ESP), trainees who successfully complete the training programme have the opportunity to take up internships at companies that provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The ESP continues to provide job matching and placement support services to assist the ICOS graduates in finding a job.

Among the 24 trainees who completed the training, 14 have found employment in the mainstream workforce and one of them is 46-year-old Mabel Yee. The former childcare teacher of seven years suffered a heart attack followed by a stroke in 2011 resulting in the loss of functions in the right side of her body.

Mabel underwent rehabilitation and besides having to overcome a post-stroke depression, she had to learn to write with her left hand and walk with a quad stick. Determined to return to work in the childcare sector, she signed up for and became one of the trainees in the pioneer batch of the ICOS programme in July 2013.

Mabel successfully completed all the course modules and in May 2014, found employment at a childcare centre as an admin assistant through the ESP. Although she faced some adjustment challenges on the job having been away for a few years, she worked hard to put to good use the skills that she learnt at ICOS in order to work in the industry she loves.

“Many helping hands have supported and encouraged me from my lowest point during my illness up till now. I am thankful for the ICOS training as it has equipped me with the skills to rejoin the workforce. I will continue to work hard to be a contributing member of society,” said Mabel.

Arthur Lim is another person with disabilities who has benefitted from the ICOS programme. He has Moebius Syndrome, a rare congenital neurologic disorder that causes paralysis in his face, lip and tongue resulting in speech difficulty and a flat expression. Coupled with malformation of his hands and feet and lack of peripheral vision, Arthur was shy and timid, to the extent that he once could not summon the nerve to make his way out of a crowded bus and ended up in a different place from where he intended to go. After completing his course at ITE, he learned about ICOS from the SPD website and enrolled in the programme in January 2014. Arthur found the ICT modules enjoyable and picked up essential life skills in managing communications, work relationships and personal space. He also learnt to use an app to overcome his communication challenges with others.

Working as a data entry clerk in the accounts department of a multinational tape manufacturer since July 2014, Arthur has come a long way from someone who was painfully shy and timid to one working in open employment. He wants to pay forward the help that he has received thus far. “I find my life more meaningful now, and would like to make a difference in the lives of other people with disabilities. I would like to reach out to children with special needs and encourage them in their learning. I also want to see others do well in employment and benefit from ICOS like me,” said Arthur.

“Independence is a powerful and valuable asset that many of us crave,” observed Ms Jeannie Ong, Chief Marketing Officer, StarHub. “Being self-sufficient is a huge boost to our sense of self-worth. That is why StarHub passionately believes in supporting those amongst us who are differently able, through the SPD ICOS Programme. Our wish for them is that, by learning essential office skills and useful life lessons, our ICOS graduates will be able to enjoy greater independence.”

“Gainful employment for the trainees will have positive impact not only on them, but their families, society, the workforce and the economy as well. We are very thankful to StarHub for their faith in SPD, and for providing us with the much-needed resources to get this training programme off the ground.” said Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director, SPD.