More help for Malay/Muslim PMETs in uncertain times

Malay/Muslim professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) can soon turn to a new committee for help in weathering the headwinds of an uncertain economy. Its focus is to help this growing group retrain, and rebound from employment setbacks, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim.

The committee is chaired by Parliamentary Secretaries Faishal Ibrahim and Amrin Amin.

Dr Yaacob said more will be done to boost the community's take-up of national schemes like SkillsFuture. Out of the 126,000 Singaporeans who have used their SkillsFuture credits as of last December, only 8.4 per cent are Malays, he pointed out.

While Mendaki's training arm, Mendaki Sense, will boost efforts to provide good job opportunities, "at the same time, more must be done to make continual learning and training a social norm or a natural impulse of our community", he added.

The self-help group, which kickstarts its 35th anniversary celebrations tomorrow, has turned to technology to help in its efforts.

New plans are also on the cards for Mendaki's Future Ready Unit, which was formed in 2015. This year, it will launch a Future First programme to help Malay/Muslim students in Higher Nitec courses develop IT skills and competencies like critical thinking.

Dr Yaacob also touched on efforts to strengthen and safeguard families. PPIS Vista Sakinah, which supports Malay/Muslim couples remarrying and stepfamilies, is looking at further working with asatizah, or Islamic religious teachers, to engage such families.

He also spoke of changes in the Syariah Court, which administers Muslim family law relating to divorce and inheritance matters.

Two new presidents - Ustaz Muhammad Fazalee Jaafar and Ustazah Raihanah Halid, both on secondment from Muis - came on board last year, said Dr Yaacob. They are being mentored by senior president Mohamad Haji Rais and president Zainol Abeedin Hussin, who will both retire in June.

In the next two to three years, the Court will also have a new system to boost efficiency. This will include new e-services, like being able to make appointments online, and a new case-management system.

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'More help for Malay/Muslim PMETs in uncertain times'. Print Edition | Subscribe