Rough sleepers, long-term unemployed parents or caregivers of at-risk children, persons with mental health conditions and women facing challenges. What is the common thread between all four groups? They are all vulnerable segments of society.
Although they face varying personal and family needs, a common last mile towards their economic empowerment and independence is stable and sustained employment. This goes a long way in providing them with a sense of security, achievement and purpose.
Recognising this, the SBF Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with four partners in May 2022 – the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI), NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and Tote Board – to formalise an arrangement to provide holistic employability support to these groups.
The social impact arm of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) also rallied its members of the business community to team up with it in these efforts. By employing vulnerable individuals, it maximises their potential and contributions to society, helping to build a more resilient and inclusive local workforce.
A collective effort
Starting from July 2022 and over the next three years, the SBF Foundation, together with its programme partners supporting the four vulnerable communities, aims to uplift 300 individuals annually through personalised aid and dedicated platforms to help them enter or re-enter the workforce.
The MoU partners were selected for the value-add they can bring to the table. As the spear head, the SBF Foundation campaigned for SBF members to participate and contribute collectively towards the Employability Fund and Empower Circles. The former supports employability programmes where vulnerable individuals gain access to employment. The latter was set up for businesses to learn about progressive HR practices and provide job opportunities.
The Tote Board explores the possibility of cross-sector partnerships in support of vulnerable individuals. e2i extends the coaching framework and training roadmap to job coaches from programme partners and organises Community of Practice sessions to facilitate cross-learning. It leverages existing job fairs or hiring platforms by programme partners to explore the feasibility of dedicated platforms or services in the long run.
SHRI encourages human resources (HR) professionals to play a proactive and positive role in enabling employment through conversations and e-stories. It takes steps to evolve Empower Circles into an interest group of like-minded, passionate HR professionals to nurture an interest in the cause, initiate conversations, consult one another and seek improvements.
SBF Foundation’s programme partners – New Hope Community Services, SHINE Children and Youth Services, Daughters of Tomorrow and Singapore Association for Mental Health – provide holistic support to vulnerable individuals and their families through case management, job coaching and employment support. They also build linkages with employers to encourage hiring and lower job entry barriers.
To fund these long-term efforts, the SBF Foundation is committed to raising S$1 million annually for the Employability Fund. It galvanises SBF members to donate generously and participate collectively in this joint effort.
The Employability Fund was started in 2020 as a platform for collective giving by the private sector, not just in terms of donations, but also access to job opportunities. Through an initial funding of $800,000 from the SBF Foundation and Tote Board, it is already supporting two groups holistically: homeless individuals and unemployed parents of at risk children.
In 2021, a webinar was held to highlight the importance of giving disadvantaged individuals dignity and hope through employment. Then-Speaker of Parliament, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, was the Guest-of-Honour who spoke about the need for a collective effort to this end and one way to do it was through the Employability Fund.
The SBF Foundation also aims to reach out to 120 employers who are looking to hire to take part in Empower Circles to help them better understand ways to support and nurture individuals who are in transition from challenging circumstances.
Launched in March 2021 following a kick-off in 2020 in the thick of the pandemic, Empower Circles is a peer-learning platform to forge progressive hiring practices among the business community to fulfil manpower needs and support the employability of individuals.
Building on these foundations, the MoU signed in 2022 is on firm footing to go the distance in improving the plight of vulnerable segments of society by aiding them in finding employment and in doing so, affording them a sense of dignity and self-worth.