Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Bizlink Enabling Employment Charity Dinner on 24 November 2023.
Directors of Bizlink Centre
Ladies and gentlemen
I am delighted to join you this evening to celebrate our progress and appreciate our partners who have been supporting and enabling employment for vulnerable groups within the community.
For more than three decades, Bizlink Centre has been supporting vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, persons in recovery from mental health conditions, ex-offenders, and the elderly. Yours is an empowering model focused on training and enabling employment, to give your clients the dignity of inclusion and independence through work. Over the years, you have created job opportunities through your social enterprise, as well as walked alongside many clients and employers, to make jobs and workplaces more inclusive and caring.
Indeed, we are committed to building a caring and inclusive Singapore, where every person with disability can participate fully in society, and families are supported in caring for their loved ones with disability. The Ministry of Social and Family Development launched the Enabling Masterplan 2030 last year. It sets out our vision of an inclusive society, which includes lifelong learning and inclusive employment. In particular, we aspire to raise the employment rate of persons with disabilities to 40% by 2030, up from 31% currently. This means that the work of organisations like Bizlink Centre will grow even more important.
I am glad to learn that Bizlink Centre has stepped up by launching a series of programmes over the last year, to support vulnerable segments of our community in integrating into the workforce. The Train and Place programmes equip clients with new skills so that they can take up employment opportunities in growth industries like logistics and e-commerce fulfilment, creative graphic design, e-commerce marketing and F&B digital ordering. Bizlink Centre has also developed the Employability Preparation Programme to provide horizontal support for individuals. This includes helping them craft and personalise their resumes, acquire interview techniques, grow digital awareness, and learn about work etiquette at the workplace. Together, these programmes provide holistic support from pre-employment training to in-employment job support, so that clients and employers can build mutually beneficial relationships.
I would like to highlight Bizlink Centre’s train and place programme in Logistics and e-commerce fulfilment, which was developed with support from the Enabling Lives Initiative Grant managed by SG Enable, our focal agency for disability and inclusion in Singapore. Under this programme, Bizlink aims to train and place at least 60 persons with disabilities for the fast-growing logistics and e-commerce fulfilment sector. To develop a curriculum that is relevant to the sector, Bizlink Centre worked closely with partners from the logistics industry and institutes of higher learning, such as Amazon and Republic Polytechnic. Bizlink also designed a simulated logistics and e-commerce fulfilment training centre to ensure that the training is relevant and meets industry needs. This partnership is commendable, as it supports the Government’s broader effort to provide more structured lifelong learning opportunities with meaningful career pathways for everyone, including persons with disabilities. I am happy to announce that under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Bizlink Centre, Amazon, and Republic Polytechnic, which was facilitated by SG Enable as an ecosystem builder, the first batch of 5 clients are now undergoing training for two to six months. They will then be referred to potential employers in the logistics industry, including Amazon. I encourage more like-minded corporates in the logistics sector to work with Bizlink Centre to rally your network and support the employment of persons with disabilities who are looking to forge purposeful and dignified lives through work.
The journey towards employment for persons with disabilities or other disadvantages often requires patience and customised support. Mr Muhamad Faris Bin Muhd Rosbaha has physical disability and was worried about entering into open employment after completing his tertiary education. He initially enrolled into Bizlink Centre’s Train and Place programme in Contact Centre and Data Management, which provided a safe environment to learn vocational and social skills as he works towards gaining confidence. Muhamad Faris was observed by his trainer to be a fast learner and soon was tasked to manage quality control for Bizlink Centre’s data management projects. He has done well and shown strong potential to take on a role in the fast-moving e-commerce fulfilment industry. Muhamad Faris is now undergoing training in inventory management and e-commerce fulfilment, and manages projects at Bizlink Centre’s Logistics and Fulfilment Social Enterprise. Well done, Muhamad Faris!
I would also like to congratulate Karen for her employment at Gong Yuan Ma La Tang 宫源麻辣烫, another inclusive employer, after 3 months of training at Bizlink’s cloud kitchen located within the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). Karen has intellectual disability. Through her training, she learnt skills not only relating to kitchen work, but also in managing online digital ordering system. She also went through the Employability Preparation programme which included crafting her resume, picking up interview and personal grooming skills, as well as understanding work etiquette. Bizlink, in collaboration with IMH, also provided placement support so that Karen can adjust to the new work environment. Congratulations, Karen!
Behind the success of resilient individuals like Karen and Muhamad Faris, is the steadfast support of our partners and inclusive employers, many of whom are here in the audience today. The Ministry of Social and Family Development has designated 2023 as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners, to recognise the integral contributions of partners like yourselves, towards the goal of uplifting those among us with less. Such partnerships are not limited to those between the Government and the social sector, but also extend beyond, to the people and private sectors. A big thank you to all of you!
The Government is committed to continue joining hands with our partners to facilitate more of such success cases, and build a more inclusive society. Next month, we will launch the first Enabling Business Hub in Jurong, to bring employment support closer to people with disabilities here. The Enabling Business Hub will help more persons with disabilities join the workforce by collaborating with employers and industry associations to showcase inclusive hiring practices and help businesses implement such practices. I hope to see more corporates who are keen to build more inclusive workplaces step forward and create meaningful job opportunities for persons with disabilities or enlist their services to enhance your operations. This way, we can progress towards more inclusiveness in our society and at our workplaces, empower more persons with disabilities to be gainfully employed, and most importantly, enable them to be equally recognised for their abilities, knowledge, and skills.
Thank you and I wish you a wonderful evening ahead.
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