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The number of employers partnering with a programme to provide on-the-job training to ex-offenders in Singapore has more than trebled since 2008, as bosses become “more receptive towards hiring based on merit and skill”.
This was the message given by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health & Manpower yesterday, during the opening ceremony of Hope Cafe, a training kitchen and restaurant where offenders learn how to work in a food & beverage (F&B) environment.
Khor said in 2008 the number of employers providing this type of training was 175, but this number had jumped to 791 to date – an increase of 352%.
She also said she was happy the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) had partnered with SCORE to provide the opportunity for offenders to acquire the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Certificate in Culinary Arts while in prison.
“This shows that more employers in this sector are receptive towards hiring based on merit and skills, regardless of background or past records,” she said.
“I urge all employers from the industry to do your part to support ex-offenders at work by embracing inclusive work practices. Some of you are already doing so with on-the-job training, assignment of buddies and regular engagement with ex-offenders. The Government will continue to help to improve the skills of ex-offenders through initiatives such as Hope Café, so that enlightened employers will not only implement inclusive employment practices, but also tap on this pool of trained manpower.”
Each year, roughly 9,000 offenders are released from prison and have the opportunity to step back into the workforce, but often many have trouble reintegrating with society. Helping them to find and retain jobs is a key part of the reintegration process, said Khor.
It is also a key part of ensuring they are taught good work habits and the benefits of being meaningfully employed. Plus, the rise in eateries in Singapore (6,700 new establishments in 2012) means there is a huge demand for skilled manpower.
“There were more than 6,000 vacancies in the F&B sector last year. This presents a great opportunity for us to grow a pool of trained workers to take on jobs in these sectors.”
Khor added 154 offenders have undergone training since the set-up of the Hope Café last November, with SCORE targeting to train another 204 offenders by the end of 2014.