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S’pore charity’s special programme prepares people with disabilities for work

SINGAPORE – Jobseeker Lai Su Ying had some issues when speaking to potential recruiters who wanted to have a quick chat with her over the phone before an interview.

Ms Lai, a 19-year-old Temasek Polytechnic graduate who has moderate hearing loss, said some companies might not understand her need for video calls where she is able to read the interviewers’ lips.

She said: “It makes me feel like I’m not really seen.”

In 2011, she started using a hearing aid when she noticed that people around her would sometimes get fed up because she kept asking them to repeat what they had said.

It can be painful when others dismiss her experiences, she said.

But many like Ms Lai have gained immensely from a 12-week school-to-work Talent Accelerator Programme run by charity TomoWork.

Man who used to hide disability now advocates for inclusion

After a routine health check-up in primary school, 10-year-old Rayner Teo was prescribed reading glasses.

But by the time he picked up his glasses, he could not see clearly even with them on.

A battery of tests at Singapore National Eye Centre later, he was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON).

The disease that causes bilateral, painless, subacute visual loss in young adults is four times more likely to affect men than women.

Mr Teo, now 24, has limited and blurry vision. He cannot even see the menu at food stalls clearly.

“In upper primary, I faced curious classmates as well as those who called me names,” he told TNP.

New $4,000 study grant for students with special educational needs

Benedict Lim, Our 2022 Talent Accelerator Programme (TAP) graduate, embodies the resilience and determination of individuals striving to overcome financial challenges by working part-time as a delivery rider. As a student whose hearing aid is aging, he now faces additional hurdles but his dedication to excel academically never wavered. 

The Talent Uplift Programme allows students like Benedict to fully concentrate on their studies and better pursue their dream careers by securing the necessary additional financial support. Through the grant, Benedict can cover the remaining balance of his annual tuition fees after Community Bursary and obtain a new hearing aid, significantly reducing the financial burden on both himself and his family. Likewise, Tayson Tay, our 2023 TAP graduate, shares the aspiration for a stronger financial safety net.

New agreement to boost career opportunities for those with special educational needs

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), all five polytechnics in Singapore, and TomoWork, demonstrating the joint commitment to providing specialised programmes for students and graduates with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The signing ceremony was attended by Minister of State for Education and Manpower, Gan Siow Huang, and TomoWork chairman, Joel Leong. This partnership aligns with the objective of the Enabling Masterplan 2030, which aims to increase the employment rate of individuals with disabilities to 40% by 2030.

One of the collaborative efforts, the Talent Accelerator Programme (TAP), now in its third year, facilitates personal and professional growth, as well as valuable work experience with leading companies for students with SEN. As Ms. Liew from Republic Polytechnic highlighted, “This MOU reinforces our commitment to create a more caring and inclusive society that enables every person to fulfil their potential.”

3 young S’poreans with disabilities receive APB Foundation scholarship to further their education

Congratulations to Matthew Ng, our 2022 TomoWork Talent Accelerator Programme graduate, for receiving the Asian Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship! Despite fine motor challenges, your determination to improve your physical fitness, graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, and pursue further studies in Computer Science exemplifies how limitations can be turned into opportunities.

TomoWork remains committed to contributing to Singapore’s efforts to create an inclusive learning ecosystem with private and public sectors so that more students with Special Educational Needs can reach their full potential and live out their aspirations!

Polytechnic students with disabilities gain job skills with career programme

For its second edition, the TomoWork Talent Accelerator Programme (TAP) linked students with companies such as Foodpanda, Unilever and Sembcorp Industries, where the participants helmed projects that improved operational efficiency and made products or services more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Mr Xavier Chung, 24, a recent graduate from Republic Polytechnic who has autism, said the programme gave him a boost of confidence. “In addition to acquiring fundamental knowledge such as digital skills, TAP also provided opportunities to develop soft skills that enhanced my employability.”

Graduates from Temasek Polytechnic (TP) who took part in the project last year said it was a stepping stone to practise their skills before pursuing employment and higher studies. Mr Marcus Tan, 26, who has cerebral palsy, was offered employment by Certis after the TAP initiative last year. He joined the company after graduating from his IT course at TP.
 

The Straits Times. Published on 1 June 2022.

60 polytechnic, ITE students with disabilities gain job skills in career programme

“I hope to be able to make a difference, big or small, in the lives of others”. Aspiring to be a lawyer & to give back to society, Temasek Polytechnic student Cheng Ewe-Hsuen took a talent management track in the TomoWork Talent Explorer Programme to understand more about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Gareth Chua, a similarly enthusiastic Institute Technical of Education student, chose the digital analytics track to further develop what he had learnt in school.

Through the corporate sharing & mentoring sessions provided in this programme, 60 participants from various institutions were able to explore emerging professions in the #FutureOfWork & gained valuable insights to further their personal & professional growth. On top of that, this programme offered a unique experience where students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Singapore could form a close-knitted community that shared similar lived experiences. Quoting Gareth, “It was a good experience & I got to meet other special needs students from other schools. I made some great friends.”

Program pacu bakat digital tingkat kemahiran baru dalam diri pelajar kurang upaya

“It’s important to see the world from a different perspective & learn how to empathise with others”. In this article, our graduate Nur Sabrina binte Suhaimi shared how she found her calling to overcome the stigma of people with disabilities by maximising her abilities through the TomoWork Talent Accelerator Programme. 

Sabrina also expressed her excitement on how this programme provided equal opportunities to each individual to sharpen their technical skills & carve out their career paths amidst the pandemic. To chase her aspiration of being a graphic & UI/UX designer, she polished her digital design skills through online courses & gained valuable experiences from her corporate project for a multinational company. With these newly acquired skills that built up her confidence, Sabrina aims to gain further experiences & prosper in the creative industry.  

BERITA HARIAN. Published on 26 May 2021.

Bullied by peers, student with cerebral palsy gained confidence through horse riding, school leadership roles

“Having a disability is not an excuse to not do anything” is a motto that Alina Seow, a participant of Tomowork’s Talent Accelerator Programme (TAP), lives by to persevere & achieve her life goals despite being bullied because of her disabilities.

Having experienced similar hardships, fellow participant Rayner Teo found his confidence with the support from Temasek Polytechnic’s Special Education Needs (SEN) office & his classmates with & without disabilities. Through the programme’s digital focus, he is working towards his aspirations of being an investment banker & future hedge fund manager.

淡马锡理工数码人才加速培训计划 帮助残障者掌握数码行业软硬技能

Richard Wang (王宏泽) planned to enhance his value proposition to employers through the digital marketing & data visualisation courses that are fully sponsored. For the first month of the programme, he acquired new skills such as crafting an effective resume & perfecting how to pitch one’s self to prospective employers. Alina Seow (萧玉婷) echoed similar motivations, seeking to build on her communications & teamwork skills under the guidance of project facilitators & TomoWork’s valued corporate partners.  

This article also highlighted the accessibility arrangements provided by TomoWork such as a hybrid programme schedule to accommodate participants with mobility needs & a transparent face shield to aid lipreading by participants who are hard of hearing. 

Zaobao. Published on 4 April 2021.

Temasek Polytechnic and Sumitomo Life launch digital upskilling programme for persons with disabilities

One of our TomoWork Talent Accelerator Programme (TAP) participants Mansor Ali did not let his vision loss interrupt his life. He continued looking for job opportunities & when the chance arose, decided to pursue a new career path through TomoWork’s Talent Accelerator Programme.

Another TAP participant Richard Wang also shared that his experience discussing the real business challenge with the corporate partner was an eye-opening & exhilarating experience in the journey thus far.