PA scheme aims to equip 10000 needy residents with new skills [TODAY Online]

Monthly events at RC centres offer classes ranging from hairdressing to household fixes

TODAY Online

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Whether it is learning how to fix things around the home or taking on a trade that could lead to employment, an initiative by the People’s Association (PA) aims to equip some of Singapore’s most vulnerable people with skills that could benefit them.

The Project We Care Enrich Lab scheme, which was kicked off earlier this year by the PA on an ad hoc basis, has now become a monthly event at six Residents’ Committee (RC) centres. And from next April, the PA aims to expand it to 60 such centres around the island in a bid to benefit 10,000 residents. If successful, it could be ramped up even further, according to Project We Care CEOs Network chairperson Wee Wei Ling.

The skills, offered by 24 of the PA’s partners, run the gamut. They include how to fix a leaking tap and assemble household furniture to more creative skills like henna hair dye application, grooming and hairdressing. Beneficiaries can also learn how to cook and use technological applications. The PA is looking to have 60 partners on board next year.

Some of those already signed up are even hoping to offer jobs. Resorts World Sentosa, for example, plans to open up a one-month internship for up to 50 people in areas such as food and beverage, and attractions.

Launched in November, Project We Care Enrich Lab started in April with ad hoc sharing sessions at community centres, RC centres and partners’ venues. So far, it has helped almost 200 residents.

The initiative at the RCs, launched yesterday, aims to benefit more than 700 people and will run for six months, with sessions held monthly at six RC centres across five districts.

For example, in the Central District, the sessions will take place at Yio Chu Kang Zone 9 RC, while in the South West District, they will be run at the Taman Jurong Zone B RC.

Beneficiaries, including underprivileged youth and single mothers, will be identified by grassroots volunteers working with the PA to tailor sessions according to the community’s needs.

They will be means-tested based on either their income or social needs.

For instance, if single mothers make up a sizeable group near an RC, the centre could run sessions on make-up, starting with an introduction which is followed by a more in-depth class a month later. At yesterday’s launch in Yio Chu Kang Zone 9 RC, Senior Minister of State (Trade and Industry and National Development) Koh Poh Koon said arming residents with skills they can tap in the long term raises self-reliance and builds self-confidence.

This allows neighbours to help one another and gives them a “sense of control” over everyday problems. “It gives you a lot more mental resilience as well, so that you actually build up your mental well-being,” he said.

These skills also allow beneficiaries, who face “a lot of pressures in life”, to address problems more swiftly and cheaply than if they were to rely on a paid service, which may take days to arrive, he added.

Dr Koh noted that residents could end up finding a skill that could nudge them towards a certain job: “Companies ... could also employ these residents if they discover that (they do) have a certain skill set useful for their day-to-day employment needs.”

Secondary 1 pupil Yaw Xiao La, 13, picked up PowerPoint presentation skills yesterday, which she plans to apply to her history and geography school projects. “I can help my friends when they need help with PowerPoint,” said the Ang Mo Kio resident.

Dr Koh said the initiative also allows businesses to go beyond helping the community through financial aid — adding that imparting skills is contributing in a “more meaningful and engaged way”.

Mechanical and electrical engineering firm Bintai Kindenko joined the initiative last year to teach household-fixing skills. Mr Robin Leow, the head of its integrated facilities management and maintenance department, said: “We can contribute by enabling and also empowering the residents.”

Source: TODAY Online

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