THERE is a large untapped human resource potential in people with disabilities. In a special education needs lab held last November, representatives from the public and private sector acknowledged that an initiative to tap into this potential would make an impact.
As part of a public–private partnership between education institutions and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), the Special Education Needs (SEN) Vocational Programme was initiated.
Under the programme, seats from institutions offering vocational programmes were secured for students with special education needs with the objective of enabling young adults with special needs to be gainfully employed and live independently in an inclusive community. They are equipped wih the necessary skills and knowledge as well as industry-recognised certifications.
Berjaya University College of Hospitality was selected based on the infrastructure available for students with special education needs and the ability to provide industry placements and internships upon graduation.
The first 16 students who enrolled in the programme, taking the Certificate in Food and Beverage, graduated recently and were awarded their certicates at a ceremony in the institution at Berjaya Times Square.
Pemandu Education National Key Results Area director Tengku Nurul Azian Tengku Shahriman said that the programme was initiated in order to “scale up accessibility and quality of such programmes” as well as to increase career options for students with special needs.
“I am proud to say that each graduate today will have his or her own uplifting and moving story of empowerment to share. In sharing their stories with other special needs students, they are a source of inspiration to prove that special needs children are capable of mastering skills that can lead to a sustainable life in the long term,” she said.
Berjaya Higher Education chief operating officer Mae Ho announced that among the 16 students who had received their certificates, five had been offered full-time employment in Starbucks and one at InterContinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
Goh Law Son, 26, who is now working at InterContinental Hotel KL had been sorting out stock in a supermarket prior to signing up for and being accepted into the programme at Berjaya University College of Hospitality.
“I’m very proud of my son and the rest of the students,” said Law Son’s father Goh Chee Pin.
“It’s a good effort by the Government,” he said, describing how he had thought his son’s slow learning had been due to autism but after seeing a specialist, Law Son had been diagnosed with dyslexia.
Also dyslexic, Mohd Normuhaimin Nordin, 21, said that before the course, he had just been spending time at home. He added that during the nine-month course — which includes six months of classes and three months of job placements, he was able to make friends and gain new experiences.
His father, Datuk Nordin Abdul Rahman said that this programme is the first of its kind that has been successful.
He added that he had been involved in special needs education for about 20 years and had always pressured the Government to come up with programmes for students who had finished secondary school.
“What happens to these boys when they reach 18 or 19, after they leave school?” he said.
“If Berjaya University College of Hospitality didn’t take it seriously, the students wouldn’t have been so successful,” he said.
Programmes offered under the collaboration between Pemandu and Berjaya University College of Hospitality are Certificate in Food and Beverage Service, Certificate in Food and Beverage Service - Specialising in Barista and Diploma in Patisserie, supported by City & Guilds (United Kingdom).