In-prison training gave him a leg-up

While serving his sentence, Mr Desmond Koh learnt basic skills as well as logistics.
While serving his sentence, Mr Desmond Koh learnt basic skills as well as logistics.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

For former inmate Desmond Koh, 39, in-prison job training helped turn his life around and even landed him a job before his release.

Arrested for drug-related offences in Dec 2010, he was sentenced to six years and seven months in prison. However, Score's training gave him the opportunity to learn basic soft skills as well as logistics while serving his sentence, preparing him better for the working world.

"At first I didn't feel really motivated," he said. "But after attending one or two courses, I kept looking forward to them every day as the trainers were very competent, entertaining and engaging. They shared a lot of invaluable experience, and I found the training very enriching. I didn't realise I would use the skills one day."

Before he was released in 2015, he landed the job of a warehouse associate at online supermarket RedMart Limited. Today, Mr Koh supervises operations across all departments and directly oversees at least 50 staff.

It is the first real job he has ever had.

The training he had in prison helped in more ways than one, he said. "There may be stress and pressure at work but life is fulfilling. My family can depend on me now."

Said Mr Jamil Khan, vice-president of operations at RedMart: "His work ethic has been outstanding, and I hope he will take over my role in 10 years.

"We wish to give people like Desmond a promising career to look forward to."

"I also hope that the wider community can lose the tag of 'ex-offender', and embrace a future of greater respect and diversity."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'In-prison training gave him a leg-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe