IT classes help former inmates get jobs

Mr Nabil (not his real name), 27, received an 18-month sentence for consuming drugs, and served 12 months in prison before being transferred to Pertapis Halfway House.

At the halfway house, he attended a month-long Yellow Ribbon Fund-Acronis Information Technology (IT) Skills Programme, where he was taught not just technological proficiency, but also soft skills such as how to construct a standout resume and ace job interviews.

"I've never written my own resume before," said Mr Nabil, who graduated yesterday as one of the programme's top two scorers.

"I've always got my friends or family to do it. What I learnt in the programme gave me a lot of confidence in my own skills."

Mr Nabil hopes to land a job in the logistics sector.

The million-dollar IT programme, launched by the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the non-profit Acronis Foundation a year ago to help get former inmates back on their feet in the real world, is showing success.

Out of 15 students in its first month, 12 landed jobs paying more than $1,000 a month.

About 130 have been through the programme since then.

"It's very important in this time and age to be equipped with computer literacy, and remain up-to-date with the current work requirements," said Mr Sufian Salim, 44, the deputy head of home at Pertapis Halfway House.

He hopes that by helping his residents achieve gainful employment, he will not see them back inside the halfway house again.

A Web design course aimed at younger inmates will also be rolled out later this year.

"We bank on the support of the inmate's families," said Mr Wes Chee, 45, a volunteer trainer in the programme who also works as a senior recruiter for Acronis, a cyber protection company. "They become the main motivation for the inmates to succeed."

Mr Nabil's grateful parents, who were present at his graduation yesterday, said: "We feel thankful to Pertapis for giving our son an opportunity to succeed in life.

"We hope that this certification will help him in his career in the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2019, with the headline 'IT classes help former inmates get jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe