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Employers show greater support in hiring ex-inmates

SINGAPORE — More companies are now willing to hire former offenders, with the number of employers registered with Score — which rehabilitates and prepares inmates for release by providing skills training opportunities — increasing by 7.3 per cent to 5,093 last year, from 4,745 in 2015.

Employers show greater support in hiring ex-inmates

Last year, 1,986 out of 2,061 inmates landed a job through Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) before they were released. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — More companies are now willing to hire former offenders, with the number of employers registered with Score — which rehabilitates and prepares inmates for release by providing skills training opportunities — increasing by 7.3 per cent to 5,093 last year, from 4,745 in 2015.

Annual statistics released by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) yesterday also showed that the rate of ex-convicts being thrown back behind bars within two years of being released had remained stable at 26.5 per cent.

The rate could be attributed to inmates having secured gainful and stable employment, strong support from their families and the community, as well as their personal resolve to steer clear of crime, said the SPS.

The rates for the 2012 and 2013 cohorts were 27.6 per cent and 25.9 per cent, respectively.

Last year, 1,986 out of 2,061 inmates landed a job through Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) before they were released — a proportion comparable to recent years.

“The training opportunities in the prison and the strong support shown by our employers who hire ex-offenders have helped many ex-offenders re-enter the workforce. Being gainfully employed is an important factor in their successful reintegration. It is a key step for them to contribute to their families and society,” said Mr Arputhasamy Nathan, senior assistant director with the re-integration division of Score.

While the prison provides rehabilitation and re-integration programmes, Score partners the effort to provide inmates with skills training to improve their chances of securing jobs and arranges job interviews before their release. These inmates are typically those who have been in jail for at least a year.

To ensure that they have the required skills to enter the workforce, Score offers training in communication and vocational skills, for example, to align with the national Workforce Skills Qualifications framework that also includes training in food and beverage operations.

Mr Nathan said that employers may be wary of hiring ex-convicts, but through working and building relationship with these ex-offenders, this negative perspective changes over time.

Nando’s Chickenland Singapore, which has been collaborating with Score since 2012, has hired more than 200 ex-offenders. Its chief executive officer, Ms June Koh, observed that these workers seem to be more disciplined than others.

“One of our most important values at Nando’s is that (everyone is) family … Fairness and respect for others is very important. So whether you’re an ex-offender or (not), we treat everybody the same … Everyone deserves a second chance,” she said.

There were 9,502 inmates last year, down from 9,602 in 2015, and 9,754 in 2014. There were 10,211 admissions, down from 10,635 in 2015, and 11,595 in 2014. As for capital executions, there were two carried out for murder and two for drug offences.

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