F&B jobs for some inmates even before their release

At least 100 prison inmates a year will get the chance to secure jobs in the food and beverage (F&B) industry - even before they are released.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) and the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) was signed yesterday to help offenders find employment in the sector.

It was inked by Score's chief executive officer, Mr Stanley Tang, and RAS vice-president Vincent Tan at Hope Cafe, an F&B training facility within the Changi Prison Complex

Since its inception in November 2013, almost 500 offenders have received Workforce Skills Qualifications certificates in F&B operations and culinary arts at the cafe.

The MOU will allow both parties to further tap the potential of talented ex-offenders and RAS' pool of employers in the sector.

Noting the current manpower crunch in the F&B industry, Mr Tan agreed that the MOU will bring "another channel of workforce" as well as provide inmates a chance to reintegrate into society.

After inmates have been assessed for suitability and the relevant training is provided, employers will conduct interviews in prison and make hiring decisions on the spot.

For the first six months, job coaches from Score will visit the workplace to speak to ex-offenders and their supervisors.

Mr Mike Toh, who now manages Fish & Co's Khoo Teck Puat Hospital outlet, remembers the difficulties he faced at work after his release from prison four years ago.

"Ex-inmates often have to cope with many personal issues and so they won't be able to concentrate on the job," he said.

Mr Toh worked in the kitchen for just four months before taking over as manager. "With this training given to them, they will be more mentally prepared," said the 41-year-old, who has since trained at least 10 ex-offenders at his outlet.

Fish & Co managing director Hoo Hoe Keat said: "We're happy with this initiative as it gives ex-offenders a better idea of what the working environment is like so they can make a better decision."

The company has hired more than 100 former offenders in various position in the last six years.


This article was first published on August 5, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.