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New fund to help Singapore's marginalised groups land jobs

THE Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which is a non-profit organisation, on Thursday said it has launched a new fund to raise the participation of marginalised groups in Singapore's workforce. 

Among other things, the Lift (Learning Initiatives for Employment) Community Impact Fund will support programmes that provide vocational training for marginalised individuals, and place them in jobs in the open market, CFS said. 

These programmes are targeted at four marginalised groups - persons with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses, disadvantaged women, as well as youths-at-risk - with a focus on helping them navigate and overcome barriers to securing sustained employment.

This will be done via equipping them with both hard and soft skills for obtaining jobs in the food and beverage industry, with the possibility of including more sectors in the future, CFS added.

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Said Joyce Teo, deputy chief executive officer at CFS: "Marginalised groups have largely been excluded from the labour market because of various stereotypes, stigmas and prejudices. This often leads to economic and social vulnerability that follows them for life. We hope to pilot new pathways to help the vulnerable make a living, improve their self-esteem and become more involved in society.

"Lift meets this need in a holistic manner by concurrently providing participants with technical training, social support and job coaching to help them manage socio-emotional and financial stressors while they learn and work. Ultimately, the aim is to help them get and stay employed with the help of the community."

The fund aims to support an initial 90 participants with a total of 12,600 hours of WSQ-certified (workforce skills qualifications) vocational training, as well as 5,400 hours of job matching, job placement and on-the-job coaching support.

This works out to an average of 140 hours of vocational training, and 60 hours of post-training support for each participant. During the training phase, participants will also receive social support from charity partners to minimise or resolve family and/or other issues that may otherwise derail their learning, CFS noted. 

Potential participants will first be identified and referred by the Institute of a Public Character charities, and then assessed in terms of attitude, aptitude as well as potential for employment.

Successful candidates will then be trained by one of two social enterprises working alongside CFS as programme providers - Project Dignity will train participants for kitchen and service jobs, while Bettr Barista will train participants to be baristas.

Both companies will also provide job attachment opportunities during the training phase.

CFS aims for around 65 per cent of its participants to complete the training, and for about 60 per cent of graduates to be successfully placed into employment for at least three months. To track the efficacy of these initiatives, programme providers will also, where possible, keep in touch with participants for up to two years, CFS said. 

While an anchor donor has been secured to seed the Lift Community Impact Fund, CFS is now looking to raise additional funds to cover the estimated S$528,000 required to support the programmes for these marginalised groups.

Potential donors who wish to contribute to Lift may visit Giving.sg, or write to CFS at contactus@cf.org.sg for more information.