We acknowledge the work of SSG and SG Enable to make 760 accessible courses available at the Enabling academy, while providing financial support to SkillsFuture training providers who require that help to make their courses accessible.
Having noted these positive efforts, DPA would like to reiterate the points made in our Forum letter regarding accessibility and disability inclusion that have not yet been addressed, which is the need for accessibility standards that SkillFuture training providers are required to implement.
While the 760 courses at the Enabling Academy might meet the needs of some, those courses are only intended for persons with disabilities, and not open to the general public. Without implementing accessibility and inclusion into the SkillFuture ecosystem, it could lead to an unintentional segregation between persons with disabilities and the non-disabled public taking us further from our aspirations of an integrated and inclusive society. Additionally, we are concerned that Singaporeans with disabilities do not have the same opportunities for skills and training development as the rest of the population. Currently, there are approximately 20,000 courses offered through SkillsFuture as compared to the 760 provided by the Enabling Academy.
To be clear, we are not calling for all SkillsFuture training providers to be experts in accessibility and disability inclusion. What we are advocating for, as one of several first steps, is the need for standards to be put in place so we can progressively work towards the goal of ensuring training providers being ready to provide reasonable accommodations to learners with disabilities when they request them. As opposed to training providers dismissing or rejecting those requests because they have not invested the time and resources to be able to provide those accommodations. SG Enable and/or other disability organisations can support training providers to build accessibility into their training design and provision on top of tapping on the existing financial aid that is provided by SGEnable and SSG to do this.
As SG Enable and SSG note, even though technical and financial assistance is available; it is still up to individual training providers as to whether they would like to make their courses inclusive and accessible. Without a requirement from SSG that training providers build in accessibility into their courses they are less likely to explore that path.
As many in government have noted, improving SkillsFuture will be an important element of ensuring no one is left behind in the uncertain economic times we are living in. Requiring training providers to seek assistance in making their courses accessible is just one way of not only starting important conversations on inclusivity, but it is also a first step in ensuring that no one is left behind in the SkillsFuture movement.