Students can opt to work in social enterprise or school

Assumption Pathway student Ng Wei Ming (centre) works three days at a hotel and spends two days in school, where he gets to consult job coaches Royston Alvin Ang (far left) and Ronnie Ho.
The Straits Times

At Assumption Pathway School, students in the work-study scheme can choose to work in a social enterprise or within the school, instead of in commercial companies.

Mr Royston Alvin Ang, a job coach at Assumption Pathway Academy, as the school's work- study arm is called, said that while some students are ready to handle the demands of the working world, others may need more time and guidance.

He said social enterprises have a "more forgiving culture". "The environment is better for students who may be more problematic and require more hand- holding," he said.

The school partners Crossings Cafe, a social enterprise with a mission of providing employment opportunities to youngsters who are at risk or from disadvantaged homes.

The school also runs its own restaurant and baking kitchen, which employ students on the work-study programme. Named The Art, it is open to the public from Mondays to Fridays for lunch and high tea, and students working there take orders, serve customers and prepare food and drinks.

They are supervised by a restaurant manager and a chef, who work full-time at the restaurant.

At the baking kitchen, students are responsible for baking products when orders come in.

The kitchen often receives orders from the school, its staff and members of the public, especially during festive seasons such as the Moon Cake Festival. Some of its products are sold at the restaurant too. "For students who are less work- ready, we will place them internally," said Mr Ang.

"The mentors are people from our school, so the students receive more guidance and support."

He added that these different tiers of employment are to ensure students are matched to an environment they can handle.

But he conceded that some critics have said that letting students work in school is a "very sheltered form of employment".

"But it's actually not easy. In terms of operations, I would say the in-house work is just as rigorous as (that done by) students who are working outside," he said.

Mr Ang added that The Art restaurant is usually almost fully occupied during lunchtime and the baking kitchen often receives large orders of more than a hundred cakes.

Fellow job coach Ronnie Ho said: "This programme is set up for students who are not job-ready. Our job is to transform them. For many of them, it is their first time in a work environment and we want to give them something they can handle."

This article was first published on October 26, 2015.
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