The HR angels, Supported Employment, and the Mentally Disabled.

The HR angels, Supported Employment, and the Mentally Disabled.

Anna brought three young men 
from a mental rehabilitation center
for supported employment.
It was to be part of
their rehabilitation journey.

Tom went in with his mum.
He has finished O-level education.
"Tom, would you like to work in the kitchen here?"
"No! I don't think so!"
The HR manager, Lisa, glanced at Anna and
remembered their prior conversations.
"Er... Tom, we are very busy here!
We need help to clear the tables and wash the dishes.
Can you help us?"

"OK, can!"
Lisa, Anna and Tom's mum sighed with relief!

"We have six job coaches here
to supervise people with disabilities.

If he is not well, he can inform us.
His salary can be hourly-based for a start."

Tom started with four hours a day work
and gradually increased when he was ready.

The other two were the next to be interviewed.
They had a degree and a master degree.

Since the 1980s, the Supported Employment approach encourages open employment for people with disabilities (PWDs). Some countries require compulsory corporate social responsibility (CSR) on employers. That is to fulfil 1 – 2 % allocation of employment opportunities for PWDs, or face a monetary fine to help with the country’s PWDs.

There will be a support plan at the workplace which includes selected tasks, flexible working hours (and correspondingly the salary), a buddy system or mentoring system.


  1. Ogawa H.,(2012). Introduction to Job Coach– Promoting Sustainable Employment of Persons with Disabilities. MPH Publishing: Petaling Jaya.
  2. [Eds] Kenji Kuno, Yeo,S.L., Ogawa, H., Sakai, D. (2012). JOB COACH HANDBOOK– A Practical Guide to Job Coaching. MPH Publishing: Petaling Jaya.

How the differently-abled bake buns.

How the differently-abled bake buns.

baked baking chef dough
How these differently-abled bake hot-dog buns. (Photo by Malidate Van on


Anna watched from a near distance to the kitchen. There were two groups. May, Lionel, Tom and Kenneth were in team one.

How they make and bake buns.

“Alright, now weigh 500 grams of flour!” came the instruction. May stepped forward. She was scooping into the container of flour. “No, I do first. I am the team leader!” Lionel intercepted.

Smack! Lionel was stunned; the right side of his face was whitened with flour. Tom grasped Lionel’s right hand towards May’s face. Both Tom and May are non-verbal. Lionel held back his hand and his tears, “no, mummy said, ‘boy cannot hit a girl!'”

May threw the scoop angrily on the table. Lionel took over.

“One… two… three…four hundred,” Lionel looked at his teammates, hesitatingly. “Should I take away some?” He was returning the scooped flour to the container. (Lionel’s mum later told Anna about Lionel’s difficulties and mixing-ups with numbers).

Kenneth stopped his hand midway. He guided Lionel to return the flour into the bowl on the scale. They added another spoon, “… there! 500 gram!” He clapped away the flour on his hands. Then he stood behind them again; seemingly unfocused.

His teammates looked up at him now with new admiration!

After mixing all the ingredients in the electric mixing bowl, the dough was divided into four.
“You are going to do your own hot-dog buns. Divide your dough into smaller balls like this…” the chef teacher showed them. He shoved the smoothened ball under a big enamel bowl. All of them were attentive, except Kenneth.

“Kenneth, Kenneth, your turn!” Lionel went to call him. He was in the garden in front of the kitchen. Lionel showed and guided Kenneth on how to divide and roll the dough.

Later, while waiting for the baked hot-dog buns to cool down, it was washing-up time!
“Kenneth, your trays are not clean! Wash again, see, here?” Lionel put the trays back into the huge sink. He was a good team leader. His mum told Anna that Lionel wanted to work in a bakery shop one day.

While waiting for their children, Anna met up with the other mothers. She admired their patience and persistence in driving their autistic children for the classes the last three years.


Baking lessons were part of Kenneth’s rehabilitation and socializing activities for one and a half years. But, Anna knew that Kenneth would make a better food connoisseur than a bakery chef!

Chen Song Ping, 12 January 2021