Oral Answer by Mr Zaqy Mohamad Minister of State for Manpower to Parliamentary Question on Employment Outcomes of Persons with Disabilities
NOTICE PAPER NO. 1789 OF 2019 FOR THE SITTING ON 2 SEPTEMBER 2019
QUESTION NO. 3040 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Mr. Chong Kee Hiong
To ask the Minister for Manpower in the last five years, what are the statistics for persons with disabilities with regard to (i) their general employment rates (ii) their employment rates by 10-year age groups and (iii) the main sectors employing them.
QUESTION NO. 3041 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Mr. Chong Kee Hiong
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether he can provide an update on the progress of programmes to help companies employ and train persons with disabilities (PwDs), including the current number of companies and PwDs involved; and (b) whether there are long-term studies to monitor the effectiveness of these programmes in integrating PwDs.
- The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently started collecting data on the employment outcomes of persons with disabilities (PwDs) through our annual Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, with data available from 2018 onwards.
- Among PwDs in the working ages of 15 to 64, the resident employment rate was 28.6%. Another 4.2% of PwDs in this age range were without a job and actively looking for one, translating to a resident unemployment rate of 12.9%. The remaining two-thirds of PwDs aged 15 to 64 were outside the labour force, with most of them citing poor health or disability as the main reason.
- The Member also asked for a breakdown of employment rates by age bands. The resident employment rates for PwDs were 27.6% for those aged 15 to 39; 37.8% for those aged between 40 to 49; 26.1% for those aged between 50 to 64; and 5.9% for those aged 65 and above.
- The sectors employing the most resident PwDs are Community, Social and Personal Services, Food Services, Administrative and Support Services and Manufacturing, which together account for more than half of PwD employment.
- Besides Mr. Chong, Dr. Intan had also filed a question for the next Sitting on the effectiveness of government schemes in helping companies or employers to hire adults with disabilities. In particular, she cited the Special Employment Credit (SEC), Open Door Programme (ODP) and Workfare. I would like to take this opportunity to address Dr. Intan’s question as well.
- To enable more PwDs of working age to be active in the labour force, the government provides support in several ways. In 2012, MOM extended SEC to employers that hire Singaporeans with disabilities of all ages earning up to $4,000 a month. SEC provides an automatic wage offset of up to 16% of the employee’s monthly income for PwDs aged below 67, and up to 22% for PwDs aged 67 and over. Last year, more than 5,700 employers hiring over 8,600 Singaporeans with disabilities benefited from SEC. This number has increased from 2012, when SEC was paid to around 3,200 employers hiring about 5,000 Singaporeans with disabilities.
- Employers and PwDs can tap on the employment support services and programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative. This includes the ODP and Career Trial. ODP, which is administered by SG Enable with funding support from Workforce Singapore (WSG), provides job placement and job support services for PwDs and their employers, and grants for training and job redesign. The ODP Training Grant provides a subsidy of up to 90% of course fees to support the training of PwDs and their co-workers. The ODP Job Redesign Grant provides employers with funding of up to 90% of the job redesign costs, capped at $20,000 per employee with disability, to help integrate PwDs at the workplace.
- Some employers and PwDs may have reservations about job fit and the suitability of the work environment. To address these concerns, Career Trial provides an opportunity for jobseekers and employers to try out each other and assess job fit through a trial. During the trial, which can be up to three months, jobseekers receive a training allowance from the Government.
- From January 2016 to June this year, close to 780 companies have hired more than 2,000 PwDs with support from the Adapt and Grow initiative. At least 60% of these PwDs remained employed after 6 months.
- Finally, the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) and Workfare Training Support (WTS) were extended to lower-wage PwDs of all ages in 2012 and 2017 respectively. WIS tops up the salaries and CPF savings of lower-wage PwDs, with up to $3,600 in cash and CPF contributions annually. WTS provides support such as course fee subsidies, monetary awards and training allowances to encourage lower-wage PwDs to upgrade their skills. Last year, more than 6,400 Singaporeans with disabilities benefited from WIS, up from more than 3,500 in 2012. The number of Singaporeans with disabilities who benefited from WTS training also increased last year to about 860, up from about 640 in 2017.
- There are also ongoing efforts to help PwDs integrate into the workforce. Earlier this year, MOM and SG Enable launched the Job Redesign Guide for Inclusive Employers. The Guide provides step-by-step information for companies on how they can redesign jobs to suit PwD workers – for instance, through changes to the workplace or working arrangements. SG Enable also runs disability management workshops and a biennial Inclusive Business Forum to equip employers with knowledge and skills on how to recruit PwDs and integrate them into the workforce.
- Inclusive employment requires collaboration amongst the public, private and people sectors. In March this year, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced the formation of a new workgroup under the Third Enabling Masterplan to look at preparing PwDs for the future economy by enhancing access to lifelong learning opportunities and employment pathways. The workgroup is co-chaired by Minister of State for Social and Family Development, Sam Tan, and Mayor Denise Phua. The workgroup is engaging PwDs and their caregivers, social service agencies and other disability stakeholders to better understand the needs, challenges and aspirations of PwDs. The workgroup aims to release their recommendations early next year.