Helping People with Special Needs Find Jobs

special needs

Frustrated at the lack of continuous employment his brother-in-law faced, Anders Tan decided to team up with a few friends to begin Inclus, a social enterprise which enables people with special needs to find jobs.

He quoted an example of a worker with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which led him to face difficulty in navigating social contexts and increased anxiety when things suddenly changed at the workplace.

His various employers did not provide much job support beyond working with an external job coach. As the external job coach did not work for the employer, the job coach would also not be able to be the thick of things and provide timely intervention for the worker with ASD.

To improve the way that people with special needs find and hold down jobs, Anders and his friends Shaun Tan, Arudra Vangal and Albert Lee came together to try a new employment arrangement under Inclus.

How does Inclus help people with special needs find jobs?

Inclus will first hold a free initial job assessment (about 2 hours) for the applicant with special needs to better understand him/her.

It will then hire and train the applicant with special needs (aka the trainee) for several jobs that employers are looking to fill. If there are no jobs the applicant is suitable for, Inclus will keep him/her in mind for future suitable job openings. Inclus emphasises on job retention and job satisfaction, not just hiring.

Currently, Inclus caters for workers with neurodiverse needs and mild intellectual disabilities.

The worker can be a graduating student from SPED school, current working individual (part/full time), or someone looking for a job. It plans to expand to workers with physical disabilities at a later stage.

The trainee attends both classroom and on-site training at the employers’ premises.

Job coaches, psychologists, and occupational therapists observe the trainee’s ability to perform the work tasks in the classroom and on-site training and look for suitable interventions.

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In the month-long training, trainees are assessed according to their ability to follow visual and verbal instructions.
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Inclus’ job coaches and psychologist also observe if the trainee requires additional intervention on (such as correcting mistakes, seeking clarification on unclear instructions, managing emotions at the workplace, etc).

By having on-site training, the trainee gets a real feel of the actual work and workplace environment, and the employer can assess the trainee’s ability to do the job in the future.

The first batch of trainees was posted to a fruit shop and a floral business for six days to try different job roles such as cashiering, preparing cut fruits, retail display arrangement and floral bouquet-making.

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An Inclus trainee learns how to arrange fruits in an aesthetically-appealing manner to draw customers into the shop.
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Blueberry boxes may not be aligned within the carton upon arrival at stores, so an Inclus trainee ensures the box labels are facing the correct way up.
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An Inclus trainee learns retail display practices for different fruits including ensuring the price tags are correctly displayed.
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Inclus ensures the trainee is brought through all the processes he/she is required to do on the job. In this photo, the trainee learns the route and the expected method of recycling and disposing refuse at the bin centre.

What support does Inclus provide employers?

For employers new to hiring people with special needs, Inclus will brief and train both management and the direct working colleagues, help to develop corporate diversity and inclusion policies, share best practices and resources, and Supported Living (to help people with special needs become more independent).

To bridge the gaps between employers and trainees, Inclus will also help to identify branches or departments whereby the staff are more likely to welcome and embrace workers with special needs, and find the best job fit for the employer and trainee (based on his/her capabilities).

Inclus also looks for employers who pay employees with special needs the same wages as neurotypical employees.

During the on-site training, Inclus will look out for communication gaps and pre-empt with solutions in the event the trainee is given the go-ahead by the employer to fill in the role.

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A trainer from the floral business teaches Inclus trainees how to make a floral bouquet.
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Inclus trainees are also taught product knowledge, customer service, workplace communication and other related job skills such as cashiering, retail display and general operations.
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Inclus trainees sharing how they repacked and arranged roses from the warehouse delivery to the cold room in the floral business.

After training is completed, Inclus will talk to the trainee and employer and understand who they each want to work with.

Trainees who are successfully matched by Inclus will be hired by Inclus to work at the employer’s premises as an outsourced staff, usually for a period of 9 to 12 months, and could be as long as 2 years.

Inclus will look after payroll, staff welfare and benefits during this trial period. Inclus’ job coaches will continue to support the trainee on a regular basis.

If the trial period goes well, the employer can choose to directly hire the trainee, or continue the outsourced arrangement with Inclus.

If the employer and trainee are not suitable for each other, Inclus will help the trainee restart the training and placement process for a new job with another employer. In this sense, the trainee experiences some continuity under Inclus.

Besides operation jobs, Inclus also has jobs in software development, quality assurance and IT security that it is recruiting talents with special needs to fill.

To learn more about Inclus, visit

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1 Comment

  1. Christine says:

    I need a job and can studies in Singapore diploma course get a certificate

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