People with disabilities don’t just need to find jobs, they also want to stay in them. It is, therefore, crucial that they are prepped for employment, reasons Anders Tan. In July 2018, he co-founded Inclus — which helps people with disabilities find employment — together with Shaun Tan and Arudra Vangal. Tan was led to set up Inclus after seeing his brother-in-law, who has high-functioning autism, lose four jobs within months.
Candidates have to complete a four-week Train & Place Program, during which they gain a better understanding of the actual work environment and job scope through visits to partner employers. They are also taught soft skills, such as communicating with colleagues and building good relationships. Inclus continues to offer support to trainees for a year after they are successfully placed in jobs, with its life skills coach checking in with them regularly.
“Integrated job support is extremely important to help a trainee transition smoothly into their new working environment. Performance is tracked collectively with our partnering employer and the trainee’s caregiver for a more holistic assessment,” says Tan.
“By identifying issues and tackling them early, we can help avoid misunderstanding while promoting workplace inclusion. As such, all parties can recognise and make adjustments together.”
Since its first Train & Place Program in March 2019, Inclus has trained 20 people with disabilities. Of these, 14 have secured jobs.
Even the Covid-19 pandemic did little to dampen Tan’s passion for this positive cause. With meetings prohibited during the circuit breaker, training and workshops were shifted online. Tan says he was pleasantly surprised to find more participants: “I think it’s a great opportunity for them to pick up a new skill and stay socially engaged.”
Inclus wants to bring about a more inclusive society. How is inclusivity important to the progress of Singapore?
I believe that everyone deserves equal opportunities. If people with disabilities are given these opportunities, you might be surprised that some may even perform better than the rest of us. By enabling them to work, it also allows their caregivers to return to the workforce. As people with disabilities begin to contribute to our economy, there will be multiplier benefits in income, productivity and the growth of Singapore.
Are we there yet?
While I think companies are beginning to see the value of having a diverse workforce and have become more open to hiring people with disabilities, it will still take some time for our society to become fully socially inclusive. That’s why we want to encourage more decision makers to adopt inclusive hiring practices. Many companies are interested in inclusive hiring but unsure about the process, suitability of working environment and various disabilities and capabilities. That’s where Inclus can provide an integrated programme to help them become an inclusive employer. Otherwise, they can also reach out directly to social service providers like SG Enable Singapore, Minds (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore), SPD and AWWA (Asian Women’s Welfare Association), which have a pool of candidates.
Before Inclus, you co-founded businesses like tutoring app EduSnap and software developer Bit Studio. What do you enjoy about entrepreneurship?
I want to make our world a better place. As an entrepreneur, I can think of ideas or solutions to help impact the life of others. And I really like the flexible working hours!
This is part of our series on super positivity spreaders. For the full story, click here.
This story first appeared in the June 2020 issue of A Magazine.