Our Journey: The Enabling Academy
Based on the World Health Organization, it is estimated that one in 270 people across the world has autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder, commonly abbreviated as ASD, is a lifelong neurological and developmental disorder characterised by social, communication and behavioural challenges.
As a condition that exists on a spectrum, that means different people require different levels of support, guidance and care in order to participate fully in the life of their communities. Despite its developmental limitations, many people on the spectrum possess exceptional skills that enable them to thrive when given the right support. Unfortunately, the stigma that is associated with ASD individuals still ring through today and therefore, limiting their access to basic necessities such as job opportunities.
As an organisation capable and inspired to make a world of difference, we then asked ourselves: How do we foster an inclusive and diversified environment that can embrace the differently-abled at the workplace?
To unravel this story, we must first look back to the inception of Project Differently-Abled. Project Differently-Abled, also known as Project DA, was launched in 2013 under Yayasan Gamuda, the Group’s foundation arm. Our aim was to facilitate adults in the high-functioning autism spectrum by providing them gainful and sustainable employment within Gamuda. Through a dedicated support team and with the help of local and international experts and practitioners, our efforts proved successful when we managed to support a total of 19 employees with autism, working across 17 departments in the Group.
Following the success of Project DA, we have been inspired to scale up the work with the establishment of Enabling Academy (EA) in 2017 — one with a greater ambition to upskill more young adults in the spectrum by promoting sustainable employment in corporate companies beyond our own. These partner companies range from banking, IT, construction, retail and more.
We scaled our efforts through the Employment Transition Centre, a dedicated curriculum that equips people with autism with relevant skill sets to help transition them into meaningful careers and brighter futures. Since May 2017’s first batch comprising 10 trainees, EA to date has trained over 63 adults with autism and have successfully placed them in over 30 different companies.
Enabling Academy was launched on October 4, 2018. In the same year, we were also privileged to earn the visit of Mr Akira Miyakawa, Japanese Deputy Labour Minister. His visit was marked as an esteemed international recognition for our efforts, and a defining milestone for Enabling Academy.
Another 2018 milestone for the Enabling Academy was when we were appointed as the examination centre for the Recognition of Prior Achievement Programme. This programme is a collaboration with the Department of Skills Development, Ministry of Human Resources for Skills Certification in Office Administration, Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM), Level 2 (Certificate) and Level 3 (Diploma).
While many companies now see the benefits of introducing neurodiversity at the workplace, not all companies have the right knowledge and resources to adapt their practices. Taking this as an opportunity, EA decided to expand its reach nationwide in 2020. As a result, the Employment Transition Programme Trainer’s Manual was published, aimed to guide special education teachers, vocational trainers and job coaches in preparing adults with autism and other learning disabilities for sustainable employment.
To date, a total of 3,330 manuals were distributed to special education programme in secondary schools, community-based rehabilitation centres, universities and organisations of both public and private sectors.
Expanding on the Trainer’s Manual, our efforts will be further translated in 2021 through the Employment Transition Programme (ETP) practitioner’s workshop. Here, we will train other institutions on ways to implement the content of the book into their own classes or programmes. These workshops will be available to special education teachers, community-based rehabilitation practitioners, lecturers of polytechnics, community colleges and more.
Being at the forefront of the Malaysian construction industry, we have had not only the liberty of transforming the infrastructure of the nation but also the communities in which we have built along the way. This success is attributed to the dedication and hard work of those who chose to build a career with us. Through our continued success, we hope to give back to the community by making our growth more sustainable and our success more inclusive for people from all walks of life.