Out of the Classroom and into the Workforce

ICOS graduates with SPD President Ms Chia Yong Yong (front row, second from right) and Ms Jeannie Ong, Chief Marketing Officer, StarHub (last row, fourth from left)

ICOS graduates with SPD President Ms Chia Yong Yong (front row, second from right) and Ms Jeannie Ong, Chief Marketing Officer, StarHub (last row, fourth from left)

Twenty people with disabilities were presented with certificates for completing the IAC Certificate in Office Skills (ICOS), a vocational training programme offered by SPD. The graduates of the programme, made possible with the support of info-communications provider StarHub and SG Enable, were lauded at a ceremony held at the SPD Ability Centre on 14 October.

Among the 24 trainees who completed the training, 14 have found employment in the mainstream workforce, one of whom 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 receiving the ICOS certificate

Mabel underwent rehabilitation and besides having to overcome a post-stroke depression, 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 in 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 administrative assistant through the SPD Employment Support Programme (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 the lowest point of my illness up till now. I am thankful for the ICOS training as it has equipped me with the skills to re-join 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. Through ICOS, he 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.

Arthur presenting from the podium

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.

Congratulations to all our ICOS graduates! We wish all of them the very best in their job search and hope that many more employers in Singapore will give them the chance to prove their abilities.

For more information on the ICOS training, please visit http://www.iacentre.org.sg/courses/certificate-in-office-skills/.