Linking needy to jobs in their neighbourhood

Network pairs employers looking for help with residents in Marine Parade

Mr Tan Yian Leong (left), who owns Nam Loo Guan Trading Company in Marine Parade Central, with MPMA honorary secretary Victor Thya and Mr Dominic Lim (right), head of WeCare@Marine Parade.
Mr Tan Yian Leong (left), who owns Nam Loo Guan Trading Company in Marine Parade Central, with MPMA honorary secretary Victor Thya and Mr Dominic Lim (right), head of WeCare@Marine Parade. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Mom-and-Pop provision shops and market stalls in Marine Parade struggle to find workers.

At the same time, many residents of the fast-greying constituency struggle to land jobs due to disability, illness or childcare duties.

But WeCare@MarineParade, a community network started by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong to link people who need help with resources, is putting two and two together: It is starting a jobs bank for the Marine Parade area by month's end.

Called the Community Employment Matching System, businesses in Marine Parade will be able to list their job vacancies in the database.

The area's voluntary welfare organisations can also upload clients' non-identifiable information such as experience, availability and medical conditions.

If there are matches between job seekers and vacancies, social workers would inform their beneficiaries, who would then contact the businesses directly.

"We saw this gap because we know of unemployed residents who can't travel far for work because they are old or disabled, and low-income housewives who can work only while their children are in school," said Mr Dominic Lim, who heads WeCare.

"And many community enterprises can offer that flexible working hours of a few hours a day right at their doorstep," he added.

So WeCare approached the Marine Parade Merchants' Association (MPMA), which represents about 150 shops and stalls in the area, to help collate information on job openings.

Private Internet company Korvac Holdings came in to create the database for the community pro bono.

Mr Victor Thya, MPMA's honorary secretary, said the partnership is a win-win one.

"This will help smaller businesses thrive because manpower is a big problem," he said.

The 48-year-old, who runs three hawker stalls at Marine Parade Central, has been advertising for workers in the newspapers every month for the last three years with little success.

Mr Lim said needy residents in the area are likely to be more keen on these jobs because they live nearby and need the income.

These are people who are seeking counselling or other forms of help from social agencies.

Unlike the national Jobs Bank launched in July, this Marine Parade job database will not be open to the public because WeCare wants the jobs to go to the vulnerable first.

Many of the job openings are for cleaners, cashiers, stall assistants and banking assistants, and not white-collar ones more common in the national Jobs Bank.

Marine Terrace resident Wang Jee Kim said he is looking forward to seeing what kind of part-time jobs the database will offer.

The unemployed 59-year-old has been unable to take up full-time jobs because he has heart problems and needs to see the doctor frequently.

"It's a good idea for them to link us up to something nearby, because then I can just go downstairs to work for a few hours and come back up to rest after that."

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