Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT): Transforming Lives for the better

Jeevan from the Bettr Barista’s Holistic Training Programme

Jeevan from the Bettr Barista’s Holistic Training Programme

At just 18 years old, Jeevan never imagined that he would find himself resigned to his fate in life.

“Three years ago, I dropped out of school, did some things, and ended up on probation. At that point in time, I thought that this would be the end for me – this is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life,” recalls the young man.

Despite repeated rebuffs from many employers, things took a turn for the better after Jeevan was accepted into Bettr Barista’s Holistic Training programme.

Bettr Barista’s Holistic Training Programme is committed to equipping vulnerable individuals from marginalised groups with skills to be employed and stay employed. Through the programme, they are trained not only in practical skills as a barista, but also in interpersonal skills to integrate back into society.

“I went to 20 interviews in two months, but they all rejected me because of my probation. It was tough until I came to Bettr. I didn’t expect to get accepted and I was mentally drained after all those rejections. When I was accepted, I was quite happy and really looking forward to it as something that could change my life.”

As a result of going through two months of BB’s Holistic Training programme, Jeevan is currently employed at Five &2 Bistro.

Changing lives for the better, even for those who are resigned to their fate – this is the mission of Bettr Barista, whose programmes are aimed at turning the lives around for marginalised groups and equipping them with holistic skills to get and stay employed. These groups include youth-at-risk like Jeevan, persons with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses and disadvantaged women.

Improving the lives of the marginalised since 2011

Bettr Barista and Project Dignity are two of the social enterprises partnered with the Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF), spearheaded by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS).

Since 2011, 135 participants have enrolled into Bettr Baristas Holistic Training (HT) programme, which saw an increase from an average of 12.6 to 40 trainees every year after it began receiving funding from LIFT.

The HT programme is an intense two to four months full-time work-and-study programme, which provides training ranging from emotional self-awareness counselling and workshops in Professional Coffee Education, to soft skill development and employment readiness.

By December 2020, a 65% graduation rate is expected from the cohort of 40 participants from April 2019 to October 2020, in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The remainder of the cohort which did not graduate faced extenuating circumstances, with an unsupportive home environment cited as one of the key challenges faced by the participants.

18 of the graduates have already found employment with BB’s referral partners, in sectors such as Social Services, Family Services and Probation & Community Rehabilitation.

Giving dignity to the intellectually disabled through culinary arts

Project Dignity’s Train-and-Place programme helps equip marginalised individuals with practical skills to gain and sustain employment through a 22 day vocational Food and Beverage (F&B) On-Job-Training programme.

Those who participate are disadvantaged individuals with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues. They learn about aspects of working in the F&B industry, such as basic food hygiene and quality control procedures to prepare ingredients and serve customers.

As of October 2020, the programme outcome reports a high completion rate of 94% from the 50 participating trainees, with 76% gaining employment after completing the programme. Additionally, 22% of employed participants remain employed for a sustained period of at least three months, with six trainees remaining employed for 12 months or more.

The 38 trainees who were employed received a salary which ranged from $500 to $1,600. Trainees who completed the programme but were not able to receive employment cited extenuating circumstances from challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and nursing home restrictions

If you would like to support someone in their journey towards sustained employment opportunities, please visit our donation drive on Giving.sg here

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