In each year’s cohort of graduands from our 19 Special Education Schools, there is a percentage of young adults who are certified as employable by the schools, but will eventually be unable to secure employment. Reasons include the inability to travel independently, limited skills like communication, social, fine motor or life readiness, or simply needing more time to assimilate to work, social and environmental settings.
These trained-abled adults would have a high possibility of becoming home-bound upon graduation, and might deteriorate over time in their conditions, such as intellectual abilities, as well as muscular abilities for those with physical disabilities. For families who cannot afford extra domestic help, a parent or caregiver would typically have to quit employment to care for their child’s needs into adulthood, hence further depleting the limited financial resources which could have otherwise been directed to the needed therapies and care.
In effect, an 18 year old young adult, who could have been an economic asset and independent contributing citizen, might instead end up becoming a beneficiary of social services and financial assistance, consuming the nation’s limited resources set aside to care for the less-abled.
The Extra᛫Ordinary Apprenticeship Programme (EAP) aims to increase the employability of such persons with special needs. In the current traditional Train-and-Place Model, each student in a school is put through a vocational training programme before being placed into employment opportunities. In contrast, EAP adopts a Place-and-Train Model, where each graduating student is first placed into employment in actual employment with incorporated trainings within the real work processes for a better transition from school to work.
Job coaches and therapists from Extra•Ordinary People will be deployed to the employers’ sites to support the student trainees throughout the transitional period. Extra•Ordinary People is committed to continue the necessary support until each student is able to work independently in their assigned roles. Transport arrangements from home are arranged for those who are still unable to travel independently, as a sustainable solution.
Currently 3 pilot projects are designed around 3 domains for choice:
Culinary – A commercial central kitchen employs and trains students to produce dim sum products for its restaurant clients.
Fine Arts – A gallery owner employs and trains aspiring artists in its gallery, and helps turn their designs into product packaging.
Horticulture – A landscape company employs and trains students in landscape design, flower arrangements and gardening.