Fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace
Youths with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities experience great difficulty breaking into the workplace. In Hong Kong, only 35.3% of people with disabilities are employed – in comparison to 71.2% with those without a disability. The combination of social bias, negative employer attitudes, and a lack of support means youths with SEN are often not given an equal opportunity to develop their skills and find meaningful employment.
Partnering with secondary schools and various NGOs, ISS Hong Kong developed SHINE@ISS – a program offering training, career opportunities and mentoring support for youths with SEN.
To kick off the program, students attend a three-week pre-employment training to prepare them for the workforce, covering topics such as persistence, responsibility, communication skills, service mindset, time and stress management. This is then backed up with on-the-job training and internal classroom trainings on ISS’ core vision – Service with a Human Touch – and trained on-site career mentors are there to provide support.
Finding joy in helping others
One of our SHINE program participants, 19-year-old Yiu Kwan, works as a cleaner at Hong Kong public hospital. Yiu has autism and sometimes struggles expressing himself, however, his energy and attention to detail means that he thrives with clear and concrete instructions.
Shortly after joining ISS, Yiu was recognized for his work ethic and received compliments from his peers, supervisors and the client. After a year with ISS in the SHINE program, Yiu is more confident and his interpersonal skill have improved significantly. His great efforts earned him a promotion and often he helps out with other teams and tasks.
Yiu is just one of 15 youths that have been employed and enrolled in the SHINE@ISS program, which first launched in 2019. A year on, more than half of these students are still working with ISS in various roles.