CDAC launches 21 new short courses for job-seekers

Short is sweet for the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), which on Thursday launched 21 new courses for job-seekers. The courses on offer, which range from mobile phone servicing to making Cantonese pastries, focus on practical skills and take between 20 to 150 hours, with minimal entry requirements.

Trainees pay just 5 per cent of the fee - no more than $75 - with the rest subsidised by the CDAC.

Courses which take a longer time, and with strict entry criteria such as a certain number of N Levels, may be daunting to less-educated jobseekers, said Mr Goh Chim Khim, the executive director of the Chinese self-help group. "We look for courses that suit our target group", such as back-to-work or less-educated workers who may lack confidence or the qualifications for a "complicated or high-level course".

To cater to the CDAC's target group, which is Chinese, some of the courses are also conducted in both English and Mandarin. The new courses, which were launched at a training and job fair in Buona Vista Community Centre, are not supported by Government funding. But they have been added to the existing CDAC Skills Training Award Scheme. About $200,000 has been initially budgeted for the courses, which should allow some 300 trainees to be subsidised.

The scheme is open to Chinese Singaporean and permanent resident low-income workers, whose qualifications are limited to O Levels or less.

"Our learners may not be academically inclined, but in this course, you're working a lot with your hands," said Mr Fabian Doh, principal of Baking Industry Training Centre, which is offering four courses, including cake-making and Asian pastry making.

And the hands-on aspect appeals to Ms Tan Chew Kin, 26, who did not go beyond secondary school, and is looking to change jobs.

"In school, I wasn't academically inclined. I'm more interested in this sort of thing - hands-on skills," said the factory worker in Mandarin, after signing up for a hairdressing course yesterday.

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