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Companies can help special needs people to participate in community: Chan Chun Sing

By tweaking work processes, companies can offer more employment opportunities to people with special needs, says Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing.

SINGAPORE: By tweaking work processes, companies can offer more employment opportunities to people with special needs.

Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said this can open up doors for them to participate fully in the community.

He was speaking to the media at the opening of Starbucks' 100th store in Singapore, which has six staff with autism.

Starbucks has been helping to train children from the Autism Resource Centre for the last decade.

And its 100th store in Singapore will further this cause.

The artwork on its walls and the special edition tumblers it's selling are designed by one of its students.

It has also employed six staff with autism.

To tap on their strengths, the company re-designed the role of a barista so that they can specialise in what they do best.

Denis Phua, president of Autism Resource Centre and an MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC, said: "It's not difficult to find employers who are willing to accept people with special needs mainly also because it's such a tight labour market now. There're many kinds of employers out there. The challenge is to find an employer who's willing to put in the extra mile, walk the extra mile to physically construct the place, to modify the work systems, to provide ongoing support, not just on a one-time basis, but on an ongoing basis."

Mr Chan said: "Actually, many corporations can come on board by just doing a bit of redesigning of their work processes and then that will open up many doors for the people with special needs to participate fully in the community.

"This is the kind of spirit that we hope to see - that people come on to this venture not just because they seem to pity the people with special needs but they actually see the people with special needs as partners worthy in their own right to be able to contribute meaningfully to their company and the job that they provide for."

Mr Chan said he hopes more companies can come onboard to offer job opportunities to people with special needs. 

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