Academy trains differently-abled people for jobs

Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh (front row, centre) with corporate partners of Gamuda Bhd at the launch of Yayasan Gamuda's Enabling Academy. Gamuda Bhd group managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling (back row, third from left) said the academy trains differently-abled youngsters for employment in the corporate sector.

YAYASAN Gamuda's Enabling Academy which trains differently-abled individuals on the autism spectrum for employment in corporate companies is working closely with its corporate partners to ensure employment sustainability of their trainees.

Gamuda Bhd group managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling said that the employment sustainability of differently-abled youngsters trained by the academy and hired by corporate companies is very important.

"We know it is not easy, it needs a lot of commitment and efforts to sustain their employment," he said at the launch of the academy at Menara Gamuda in Bandar Damansara Perdana, Selangor.

Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh who officiated at the launch presented recognition certificates to 14 partner companies that have employed the academy trainees.

People aged 21 years and above who have an official autism diagnosis and fulfil other criteria are eligible to undergo three months' training at the academy which was set up two years ago. Upon completion, they will be placed in suitable white-collar roles in companies that embrace workplace diversity.

Yayasan Gamuda started off with Project Differently-Abled in 2013 to provide gainful and sustainable employment to young adults with autism and scaled up the programme to an academy.

Yeoh said it was heartening to know about the efforts of Gamuda who were identifying the gaps in the social system and helping to address and find workable solutions towards diversity and inclusion.

"The Enabling Academy is meaningful and speaks of effort that goes beyond running a programme to tick the CSR box. It advocates the push to take our society to the next level where neurodiversity is valued and supported," said Yeoh.

"At the ministry, we are working towards creating supportive, safe and non-discriminatory environments and practices for families at the workplace and beyond," she said.

"We have to look beyond their perceived lack of social interaction and communication skills and see them for their true value and merit – namely their unusually high attention to detail, analytical skills and ability to focus intensely on any given task which additionally makes them highly productive employees," she added.

Yeoh said that more companies need to become ambassadors of the academy for sustainable nation building.

"I also want to call for more private companies to set up academies or centres for persons with disabilities that focus on preparation for the workforce and subsequently guaranteed employment," she said.

According to Yeoh, there are 474,579 persons with disabilities (PWD) in the country as at June 30 this year, of which 862 are working under 489 employers.

"We want to increase this number and we are very happy with partners like Yayasan Gamuda coming on board to expand this," she said.

Gamuda has employed 20 differently-abled individuals since five years ago, said Lin.

"We saw very early the need for a full support unit, coach and trainers to help these people gain employment and access to jobs suitable to their skills," he said.

Feedback from the trainees' parents have been encouraging, he added.

"They said that their differently-abled youngsters had quality family life after gaining employment.

"There is also feedback from their colleagues that it has open up their minds and hearts to become better persons," said Lin, adding that such positive feedback served as motivation for Gamuda to continue with the programme.

To date, 30 individuals have graduated from the academy.

Academy project lead Hong Kok Siong said three batches from the academy have been assigned to various roles in administration, engineering and information technology with corporate companies.

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