Speech by Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education at Advanced Certificate in Supported Employment (ACSE) Graduation and Skillsfuture Study Awards Ceremony

Published Date: 30 August 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Ms Ku Geok Boon, CEO of SG Enable

Dr Victor Goh, Director of Social Service Institute (SSI)

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. A very good morning to all of you. I am very happy to be here today to witness the graduation of the first batch of participants of the Advanced Certificate in Supported Employment, or ACSE in short, and also to present the SkillsFuture Study Awards to Persons with Disabilities and Disability Employment Professionals who support them. On behalf of MOE and MTI – these are the two ministries that work together very closely on SkillsFuture, as well as MSF and SG Enable, congratulations to all of you!

Importance and Impact of Skills Upgrading

2. As the global economy restructures, there are also opportunities we need to seize. To this end, Singapore - whether it is the Government, the private sector or Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) – we all have to work hand-in-hand to help our people to reskill and upskill to take advantage of opportunities. A passion for learning is an important ingredient and will serve all of us well as we upgrade ourselves, improve our skills, and remain adaptable to evolving labour market trends.

SkillsFuture Study Award for Persons with Disabilities Supports Lifelong Learning

3. The Government is doing its part to support and encourage every Singaporean to learn and upskill throughout their lives. Last year, it was a game-changing moment when we passed the legislation in Parliament to form SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). Like ACSE, SSG is also about one year old, and it comes under the ambit of MOE. It is game-changing because we are no longer just looking at students in schools and in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), but at adult learning as well. It is important that all of us embrace a passion for learning, and understand what drives us, what are our strengths, interests and passions. That is why our job coaches are important. Earlier in the video we saw that in September 2016, the SkillsFuture Study Award for Persons with Disabilities and the SkillsFuture Study Award for Disability Employment Professionals were launched.

4. The SkillsFuture Study Award for Persons with Disabilities recognises persons with disabilities who have demonstrated resilience and perseverance to develop and upskill themselves. With this SkillsFuture Study Award, they can deepen their skill sets and have access to more employment options. Today we will be presenting this SkillsFuture Study Award to six deserving recipients. Because of the six of you in the pioneer batch, I am sure that more will come on board, and the program will go from strength to strength. We hope that the award will further support and encourage them to pursue lifelong learning and continuously upgrade their skills to stay relevant in the job market. In order to embark on lifelong learning, the best way is to find out and tap on your innate motivation. How do we fire up that passion in ourselves? It is only when what we do is aligned with what we are passionate about, as well as our strengths and talents. This is why the Disability Employment Professionals and job coaches are very important.

Professional Development for Disability Employment Professionals – ACSE and SkillsFuture Study Award for Disability Employment Professionals

5. As individuals work hard towards maintaining their skills relevancy and upgrading themselves, they can also benefit from coaching and career guidance and support. Education and Career Guidance (ECG) is a key focus that we have looked at since about two years ago. In MOE, we have about 100 ECG counsellors. Every ITE has six of them, and at the secondary school level, we have one ECG counsellor attached to four secondary schools. Similarly, for VWOs and SPED schools, we are also equipping them with counselling professionals as well. For persons with disabilities, this support is often provided by Disability Employment Professionals. These are the job coaches working in VWOs, the employment specialists in SPED schools and the guidance officers in Special Education Needs offices in the Institutes of Higher Learning. They help to build confidence, scaffold, and help them to transit into the work environment. The ACSE and SkillsFuture Study Award for Disability Employment Professionals are thus important efforts to provide continuous education and training for these professionals, so that they may go on to offer better support for persons with disabilities.

6. I am very encouraged by the video we just watched. It is inspiring to see how the graduates have grown professionally and are now applying the skills that they have learnt to better support persons with disabilities.

7. The ACSE is a programme developed by SG Enable in collaboration with the Social Service Institute. Even as SG Enable continues to focus on making sure we have the robust hardware, they are also working on the heartware. Their programs are not just for persons with disabilities but also for the professionals supporting them. It provides a formalised and structured learning opportunity for Disability Employment Professionals to enhance their knowledge and skills in working with persons with disabilities. We also welcome individuals who want to make a career switch. For individuals new to the sector, it also equips them with the necessary skills to provide support to both persons with disabilities and to employers in hiring and integrating persons with disabilities in the workplace.

8. For instance, Ms Nur Khaiyisha Binte Abd Kadir who has just joined APSN Delta Senior School after the ACSE programme has benefited from both the curriculum and the network she gained from participating in ACSE. She is able to apply the knowledge and skills she learnt to develop her students’ competencies and readiness for work. The network that she gained from ACSE also provides her with expert advice and professional support.

9. The SkillsFuture Study Award for Disability Employment Professionals supports experienced Disability Employment Professionals in further strengthening their competencies. Disability Employment Professionals play an instrumental role in supporting persons with disabilities throughout the employment process and sustaining them in their jobs. Those of us who have worked with persons with disabilities, we know that the job is not just done once there is a job placement. Sometimes it takes months, or it could well take years, because the environment is very dynamic and there could be new elements introduced. Today we have one Disability Employment Professional receiving this SkillsFuture Study Award.

10. She is Ms Mastura Rashid Khan, who works at The Special People, a Voluntary Welfare Organisation that serves people with special needs. Mastura runs a vocational programme that provides experiential learning for persons with disabilities to prepare them for employment and to place them in jobs. We all know that learning stays rooted with us when it is not confined to the classroom, when it is experiential and engages all the senses. She used the SkillsFuture Study Award to attain a Master’s degree in Counselling, which equips her with skills to better support persons with disabilities for employment. Mastura is also passionate about teaching and hopes to share her extensive experience and knowledge with other Disability Employment Professionals.

Conclusion

11. Mastura, Khaiyisha, and all of the graduates and award recipients today are role models. Their passion and commitment to deepening their skillsets is a strong encouragement to all of us. I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the family members and friends of the ACSE graduates and SkillsFuture Study Award recipients, for the support and encouragement that they have given to them.

12. Congratulations once again to the graduates and the award recipients and I wish all of you the very best. Thank you.

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