Media release: CFS launches community impact fund to raise marginalised groups’ participation in the workforce

  • Partners with social enterprises and charities to concurrently provide WSQ*-certified vocational training and social support.
  • Targets for 60% of participants to attain sustained employment**.

Singapore, May 23, 2019 – The Community Foundation of Singapore (“CFS”) has launched a new community impact fund to address social exclusion from the country’s workforce. Called the LIFT – short for Learning Initiatives for Employment – Community Impact Fund, it will support programmes that provide vocational training for marginalised groups in Singapore and place them in jobs in the open market.

The programmes are targeted at four marginalised groups – persons with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses, disadvantaged women and youth-at-risk. Its focus is on helping them navigate and overcome barriers to securing sustained employment. This is done through equipping and supporting them with both hard and soft skills for obtaining and maintaining jobs in the food and beverage industry. The programmes may be expanded to span more industries in the future.

“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,” said Joyce Teo, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at CFS. “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 vocational training (over a three month period per participant on average), 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 a further 60 hours of post-training support each. During the training phase, participants will also receive ongoing social support from charity partners to minimise or resolve family and/or other issues that may otherwise derail their learning.

Potential participants will first be identified and referred by IPC (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, and both will also provide job attachment opportunities during the training phase.

CFS aims for around 65% of participants to complete the training phase and for around 60% of graduates to be successfully placed into employment in open market conditions for at least three months – a milestone predictor of an individual’s ability to stay in sustained employment with regular income. To track the efficacy of the programmes, programme providers will, where possible, keep in touch with the participants for up to two years.

The establishment of the LIFT Community Impact Fund was catalysed by discussions that arose on the back of Colabs, an initiative by CFS and the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre that drives collaboration by bringing together the public, private and social sectors to learn and co-create solutions to tackle complex social issues in Singapore. Specifically, LIFT was sparked by talks with participants in a Colabs series that ran in the second half of 2017 and focused on persons with disabilities. The range of marginalised groups that stand to benefit from LIFT has been broadened to also include persons recovering from mental illnesses, disadvantaged women and youth-at-risk as there are considerable overlaps between these groups.

A guide providing practical ways to help persons with disabilities has been developed based on insights derived during the Colabs sessions. It outlines some of the challenges facing persons with disabilities, especially after they turn 18. These include the lack of employment options and opportunities for meaningful social interaction. It then suggests collaborative solutions targeted at three different levels – programme, organisation and sector. More details can be found on pages 9 to 14 of the guide, which can be downloaded here.

While an anchor donor has already been secured to seed the LIFT Community Impact Fund, CFS is looking to raise funds to cover the estimated S$528,000 required to support the programmes. Potential donors who wish to contribute to LIFT can visit or write to CFS at more information.

CFS’s community impact funds help address unmet needs or under-supported causes in Singapore. Through collaborations with charity partners to identify gaps and co-develop programmes, these funds enable the disadvantaged to lead better lives with the support of the community at large. CFS currently has three other community impact funds – MEANS (Migrants Emergency Assistance and Support), Outing for Seniors and Safe Home.

(Photo: Bettr Barista)

* Workforce Skills Qualifications
**For at least three months, a milestone predictor of an individual’s ability to stay in employment with regular income.

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