By Ng Jun Sen

SINGAPORE — When stereotypes, stigmas and prejudices prevent people with disabilities or mental health problems from finding jobs, they are often financially or socially disadvantaged for life.

To overcome these barriers, a new fund was launched on Thursday (May 23) to address the problem of social exclusion of disadvantaged groups here, bringing employment and vocational training support to where it is needed most.

The Learning Initiatives for Employment — Community Impact Fund programme is run by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), with the aim of equipping participants with skills, and helping them find jobs and stay employed.

It will target four marginalised groups, namely:

People with disabilities
People recovering from mental illnesses
Disadvantaged women
Youth-at-risk

Ms Joyce Teo, CFS’ deputy chief executive, said: “We hope to pilot new pathways to help the vulnerable make a living, improve their self-esteem and become more involved in society.”

WHAT THE FUND WILL DO
The fund will help participants undergo an average of 140 hours of vocational training and another 60 hours of job matching, job placement and on-the-job coaching support.

CFS targets around 65 per cent of participants to graduate from its training. Out of these graduates, 60 per cent are expected to be placed into jobs for at least three months.

During the training phase, charitable organisations partnering CFS will help these participants minimise or resolve family issues which could derail their training.

Participants seeking kitchen and service jobs will be trained by social enterprise Project Dignity, while Bettr Barista — a coffee academy — will coach aspiring baristas. Both organisations will also provide job attachment opportunities.

In the future, more industries could get involved in the scheme.

The scheme targets an initial 90 participants who will first be identified and referred by Institute of a Public Character charities. Their attitude, aptitude and employment potential will determine whether they qualify for the scheme.

Where possible, the programme will continue to track the participants for up to two years.

HOW IT IS FUNDED
Around S$528,000 is needed to support the scheme. All funding will come from donations and an anchor donor has been secured.

Potential donors can visit Giving.sg or write to CFS at contactus@cf.org.sg. Read more.