Remarks at Amazon-SG Enable Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony
Minister of State for Manpower Ms Gan Siow Huang, Amazon Fulfilment Centre
Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development
Mr Manuel Berbuer, General Manager – Singapore Operations, Amazon Asia-Pacific
Ms Ku Geok Boon, CEO, SG Enable
1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you today for this important milestone. It’s the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Amazon and SG Enable. This marks the partnership between two organisations to empower persons with disabilities. Thank you very much for doing this, to promote inclusive hiring and employment in Singapore. We hope more companies and organisations will come onboard this journey with us. We have made announcements about our ambitious targets for Singapore to promote hiring and employment of persons with disabilities, because we believe there is a lot of potential to be tapped on, and we believe that persons with disabilities have talents and the ability to contribute to our economy and society.
2. I would like to commend Amazon on your achievements thus far. Today, Amazon hires close to 20 associates with disabilities in Singapore, including associates with autism, intellectual disabilities, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. You have created a supportive work environment that enables employees with disabilities to excel. I heard about how you trained your employees to better understand these conditions and disabilities, to be able to communicate with people with special needs who are working here.
3. I hope that other companies will follow your example to create a more inclusive work environment in Singapore.
Reasons for businesses to hire persons with disabilities
4. Persons with disabilities are an important source of manpower and talent. Singapore is a small country with a small population, and everyone matters. We believe that everyone has something to contribute, if only we can discover it and allow their talent to bear fruit.
5. Some employers may be hesitant to hire Persons with disabilities, as they are concerned about the ability of such employees to fulfil job requirements, or the additional effort to accommodate them at the workplace. Some of these concerns are valid, and we have to understand how we can help employers and fellow colleagues overcome these barriers.
6. The experience of inclusive employers like Amazon would be useful. Persons with disabilities hold essential roles such as packing and product picking that are critical to Amazon’s day-to-day operations. Through this new partnership with SG Enable, Amazon is set to expand recruitment further, showing their confidence in employing persons with disabilities. This place at Amazon is called the Fulfilment Centre – it’s fulfilling in other ways, not just about fulfilling your customers’ needs, but also fulfilling for your employees.
Sources of support
7. The Government supports employers that take the step to hire and train persons with disabilities.
8. Under the Open Door Programme, or ODP for short, SG Enable and its partners provide up to one year of complimentary services to support employers in the recruitment and retention of employees with disabilities.Their job coaches are trained and experienced in working with persons with disabilities. They will work with employers to assess and match suitable candidates to job roles in their organisations. Grants under the ODP also support employers to make the workplace more conducive for persons with disabilities. They cover up to 90% of costs incurred when redesigning the job, modifying the workplace, and sending staff for training to work with employees with disabilities.
9. Employers who employ persons with disabilities are also supported with wage offsets through the Enabling Employment Credit, or EEC for short. Eligibility for the EEC is assessed automatically through employers’ regular monthly CPF contributions for their employees. Under the EEC, employers can receive up to 30% wage support for employees with disabilities. Many have employed persons with disabilities with support from the EEC. In 2021, more than 6000 employers hired close to 10,000 persons with disabilities and received EEC wage offsets from the Government.
10. I encourage employers to tap on these resources and support to make their workforce more inclusive, and reap the benefits of inclusive hiring. Sometimes it’s not just about meeting the company’s needs, or the manpower requirements to fulfil the job, but also in enabling co-workers to develop a sense of empathy and kindness, which will benefit everyone at the workplace. Indeed it is a whole-of-society effort, and it involves the Government, employers and employees, sometimes family members too, to play a part in making workplaces inclusive for persons with disabilities.
11. I look forward to learning more about Amazon’s inclusive hiring journey. Thank you!