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TAKING HEART

Dishing out second chances

Vulnerable individuals get to make their lives productive at HCSA's culinary programme.

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Hands on: Denise Phua and Dr Yaacob Ibrahim preparing Vietnamese spring rolls with HCSA Academy chefs and trainees.

Singapore

HCSA Academy Culinary Training Centre, the latest programme by HCSA Community Services (HSCA), aims to empower its beneficiaries and vulnerable individuals with the professional skills required to secure stable employment in the F&B sector.

Officially opened on Tuesday by Member of Parliament Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, HCSA Academy offers a six-week course based on the Food Services skills framework by SkillsFuture Singapore, with job placements facilitated upon completion. Graduating trainees will receive the WSQ Higher Certificate in Food Services (Culinary Arts).

The event was also attended by Denise Phua, Member of Parliament, Jalan Besar GRC and Mayor, Central Singapore District.

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Trainees follow a skill-training adult-pedagogy with hands-on learning of the craft in the academy's kitchen. Fitted with state-of-the-art equipment as part of HCSA's Smart Village digitisation initiative, the Academy includes online courses and augmented reality (AR) in the e-learning process.

The AR app was developed by StarHub and Singapore-based creative technology start-up Immersively and Chong Yoke Sin, chief of enterprise business group, StarHub, said: "Combining digital technology, connectivity and networking, we will continue to develop the AR app, allowing HSCA to boost learning creatively and effectively."

Dwight T Soriano, 33 and Colin Chan, 55 are among the inaugural batch of trainees and they were presented with certificates of completion during the Academy's official opening by Dr Yaacob.

Mr Soriano and Mr Chan, both homeless after being released from prison, have since found their purpose in life after being accepted into the programme.

"This course has changed my life - it has helped me discipline myself and . . . pull away from my past and build a better future for myself," said Mr Chan.

Mr Soriano added that being at HCSA Highpoint - another programme under HCSA Community Services - has helped him deal with his anxiety and depression and "talking to the chefs at the Academy makes me feel that life now has more opportunities".

Dr Yaacob said that it was heartening to see that the trainees were determined to start their lives afresh.

"With their passions for cooking, I am confident that they would be able to bring cheer to the people they cook for, and brighten their own lives in the process," he added.

Dominique Choy, executive board member and CEO of HCSA Community Services said: "HCSA Community Services is privileged to be able to transform the lives of both men and women in need, helping them move out of a life of despair into one where they have a future and hope."

Ms Choy added that Marina Mandarin Singapore and Aston's have come on board as employers and will be taking on the first batch of five trainees.