IT programme helps ex-offenders gain employment after serving time

Mr Nabil, 27, was incarcerated for drug abuse. He has spent the last month in the IT programme launched by the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the Acronis Foundation, to help gain employment after his release. PHOTO: ACRONIS FOUNDATION

SINGAPORE - Mr Nabil (not his real name), 27, was incarcerated for 18 months for the consumption of illegal drugs, and served 12 months in prison before being transferred to Pertapis Halfway House.

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

"I've never written my own resume before," said Mr Nabil, who graduated on Thursday (May 2) as one of the programme's top two scorers. "I've always gotten 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 "keep doing what he does best", by landing a job in the logistics sector.

The million-dollar programme, launched by the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the non-profit Acronis Foundation a year ago to get 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 people will have been through the IT programme by the end of this year.

"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, who is the deputy head of home at Pertapis Halfway House.

"We don't just want to give our residents any old course, it has to be able to reintegrate them back into society."

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 software company. "They become the main motivation for the inmates to succeed."

Mr Nabil's grateful parents, who were present at his graduation on Thursday, 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."

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