Penang is currently recognized as the state with the highest GDP (Gross domestic product per capita in Malaysia. With a thriving manufacturing sector of almost half the overall state GDP, Penang is a favoured recipient of foreign direct investments from multinational corporations or MNCs, primarily in electrical and electronic goods manufacturing.
Also nicknamed “Silicon Island”, the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone in the southern part of the island hosts electronic plants for global companies such as Dell, Seagate, Intel, Toshiba, Keysight Technologies and AMD. Other infrastructures to support the thriving manufacturing industry are also on the way, including designating a new business centre in Batu Kawan, which has recently received plenty of reinvestment from Seagate to increase manufacturing during the next five years.
Organizations such as the Penang Development Corporation & InvestPenang are also positioned to improve socio-economic development and promote investments in Penang. In short, Penang has a powerful manufacturing enterprise, where opportunities in executive-level management, investment management, and entrepreneurship exist.
While this is excellent news for most people looking for a job in Malaysia, job hunting in Penang for those with disabilities may not always be as straightforward as in other countries.
Challenges of employability of persons with disabilities
Increasing the employability of persons with disabilities in Penang has always been one goal of independent living within the broader goals of consumer decision-making control and community participation.
Employment is an avenue to economic independence, en route to social identification, and a source for personal networking for most adults in our society. In our adult years, we define ourselves by our careers, support our lifestyles through our wages, and develop our friendship through our workplace. Unfortunately, for many persons with intellectual disabilities, employment and associated employment benefits have not always been a practical option.
Employment in Malaysia Airports
One career opportunity for less abled individuals is working in the aviation industry in Malaysia. Malaysia airport corporation assures that they regard their employees as their greatest asset and strive to continuously provide them with a wide range of training programmes to build their skills and learning. They believe that workers at Malaysian airports should be motivated people who enjoy their jobs because they will be more likely to engage more thoroughly with their aviation work. Penang International Airport, for example, sets to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. By 2030, they aim to achieve full and productive employment, reputable work for all women and men, including young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
ACS stepping stone for Penang employment opportunities
Stepping Stone Centre is a part of Asia Community Service’s Support Centre for Community Living project, a company in Penang which provides a workplace for people with special needs. The project is in line with the UN-ESCAP(United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) declaration of “full participation and equal opportunities for people with disabilities” in the community. With initial grant assistance from International Post Office Volunteers’ Fund, the Centre, based in Balik Pulau, a rural district of Penang Island, began its operations in February 2000.
AIMS for employees in Penang
Stepping Stone Centre aims to challenge society’s traditions by presenting more work opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities.
For many Stepping Stone Centre members, this is a rare experience of acceptance and respect in a society that often rejects those whose differences we fear. Focusing more on the strengths of less abled people in Penang means seeing people with intellectual disabilities as having the same rights, hopes and expectations as any other individual. It is hoped that all people n the Penang region are people with gifts to offer, experiences to teach and hopes to fulfil. As such, this workplace provides job opportunities and will be a stepping stone for them to be more economically independent, ensuring a valued role in the community.
AIMS’ objectives for ones with cognitive disorders in the Penang region
To provide work for the members with intellectual disabilities in more attainable roles such as baking, hand weaving, and manufacturing homemade items.
- To support the members in their choice of work areas depending on their interests.
- To motivate and develop work attitudes and social skills.
- To offer behavioural, health, safety, and financial management support.
- To encourage self-determination and decision-making in members.
- To have opportunities to establish and maintain friendships and relationships.
- To enhance awareness of the quality of life outcomes that results from the chance to work.
Further work opportunities for less abled people in Penang
From a practical point of view, people with disabilities see the need to acquire skills just like any other potential job candidate. They must consistently define talents and competencies, such as reading, writing, independence in taking the bus and carrying out other essential tasks, before they are considered a possible prospect for a real job.
Sadly, while some may take longer than others to reach that required level, others will never be ready for work. However, we realize that supports are one to help people with disabilities become more independent and able to control the direction of their own lives. Therefore in ACS Stepping Stone, all people are viewed with intellectual disabilities as bringing skills and abilities rather than limitations and incapacity. We believe that members can develop career growth with the necessary support and given opportunities.
Hence, the Centre provides on-the-job training in the following work sections that have been identified, i.e.:
- Hand Weaving & Yarn Dyeing Section
- Creative crafts Section : Batik blok printing / batik canting / tie-dyeing / handmade soap / handmade paper / handmade candle
- Bakery & Cooking Section
- Pottery Section: Handbuilding products
- Production Section: Sewing / paper bag making / displaying finished products
- Recycling Section or Gardening Section
The woven products, soap and candles are produced under the brand name (Dari ACS), which will, in time, communicate to the community the ability and skills of each member.
Penang’s work ethics have changed over the years, and there’s now even more job opportunities for less abled employees. Work from home jobs in Penang have skyrocketed since Covid while Penang tourism and Penang travel agent jobs appear to be popular once again. Others have found work within the busy avenues of Penang nightlife or popular beaches in Penang. Malaysian fine cuisine will always be famous with Penang tourists, meaning Penang restaurant jobs will always be available.