19 April 2014 – The Industrial & Services Co-operative Society Ltd (ISCOS), a co-operative for ex-offenders, and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) today unveiled a collaborative effort to enhance the employability of ex-offenders at a Job Fair organised by ISCOS. Known as the SOAR (Strengthening Opportunities, Advocating Resilience) Programme, the initiative is designed to provide holistic training and employment assistance for ex-offenders. Some 375 ex-offenders are expected to benefit from the programme over the next two years.
The SOAR Programme aims to prepare unemployed ex-offenders to re-enter the workforce by enhancing their skills sets through training, and helping vulnerable employed ex-offenders to upgrade their skills and move towards seeking secured employment.
“We are honoured to partner WDA in developing the capabilities of ex-offenders. When ex-offenders are gainfully employed and lead productive lives, the chances of recidivism are highly reduced,” said Mr Patrick Ng, ISCOS Executive Director.
Mr Ng Cher Pong, the Chief Executive of WDA said, “The SOAR Programme helps ex-offenders better understand their strengths and interests, and the careers which they are more suited for before they are provided with the necessary skills training. This will facilitate better job matching and increase retention. The programme seeks to enable ex-offenders to reintegrate into the society and allow them to have better prospects with newly-acquired skills.”
Through the SOAR Programme, ISCOS will provide career profiling and training advisory services to applicants. Applicants can receive up to 90% course fee subsidy for WDA-approved training courses and training allowance of $4.50 per hour, based on the number of hours clocked, capped at $3,000 per trainee.
ISCOS’ Career Consultants will also assist in providing job placement services for trainees upon training completion. They will provide mentorship and counselling support and maintain open communication with the trainees and employers to help the ex-offenders cope with the transition into a new job and environment.
“Given today’s tight labour market, employers are constantly faced with manpower crunch. If we can have a pool of ex-offenders who are committed to have a fresh start and are equipped with new skills set and a positive mindset, there is little reason for employers to deny them of an employment opportunity,” said Ms Gloria Chua, Director of Prime Human Resource.
More than 120 job vacancies were available at the job fair. The participating employers hailed from a diverse range of industries ranging from transport, logistics, food and beverage and landscaping industries.
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The SOAR programme is open to unemployed ISCOS members (Singapore Citizens and PRs) regardless of age. Employed members earning less than $1,900 per month and are below 35 years old can also apply for the programme, while those above 35 years old can tap on WDA’s Workfare Training Support (WTS) Scheme for skills upgrading. For more information, please contact ISCOS at Tel: 6743 7885 or visit www.iscos.org.sg.
ISCOS is a Co-operative for ex-offenders established in 1989 under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Our primary focus is to help our members reintegrate into society by developing their skills set, assisting them to have gainful employment, and providing them social support to aid in their reintegration into society.
ABOUT SINGAPORE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (WDA)
The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) enhances the competitiveness of our workforce by encouraging workers to learn for life and advance with skills. In today’s economy, most jobs require not just knowledge, but also skills. WDA collaborates with employers, industry associations, the Union and training organisations, to develop and strengthen the Continuing Education and Training system that is skills-based, open and accessible, as a mainstream pathway for all workers – young and older, from rank and file to professionals and executives – to upgrade and advance in their careers and lives. For more information, please visit http://www.wda.gov.sg.