Through the findings from three dialogues with ex-offenders and inmates, discrimination at the workplace has lessen but more can be done to cultivate a more inclusive work environment.
The dialogue sessions were organised as part of the #EveryWorkersMatters Conversations. National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), together with co-hosts Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) and Singapore Prison Service (SPS) organised the dialogues with ex-offenders and inmates to understand their aspirations and challenges faced as they transition back into society and the workplace.
NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said, “Our efforts will not stop here, and we will work towards better training and work outcomes for this group of vulnerable workers.”
Fostering inclusivity in the workplace
From the first dialogue – #EveryWorkerMatters x YRConnects: Beyond Second Chances happened on 13 January. Almost 140 participants, comprising ex-offenders, employers and aftercare partners and union representatives, attended.
Participants shared that while there’s been a significant improvement, ex-offenders still faced discrimination in hiring practices and within the workplace. They opined more can be done to inform and educate fellow staff and colleagues who work with them to foster an inclusive work environment.
The same sentiments were shared by inmates in the subsequent sessions on 13 February and 9 March.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay assured ex-offenders and inmates during the dialogues that the NTUC Training and Placement Ecosystem, specifically NTUC LearningHub and NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), will continue to support them in their transition back to work, with YRSG and SPS as partners.
NTUC’s partners YRSG to uplift ex-offenders
Since 2007, NTUC LHUB has been working with YRSG to provide training to inmates. In July last year, they jointly introduced the Digital Citizenship with Coding Fundamentals programme to uplift inmates and ex-offenders in the digital literacy domain and to prepare them for future employment. e2i has also been working with partners such as YRSG to support ex-offenders with career resources such as employability workshops before job interviews and career coaching and job matching services.
CEO of YRSG, Matthew Week Yik Keong, said, “Together with NTUC, we hope more employers adopt fair and inclusive hiring practices, play a part in an ex-offenders reintegration journey so that many more lives can be uplifted and contribute back to society.”
Beyond training and employment, the participants also said that holistic support in areas such as accommodation, mentoring, financial planning and family support is critical in reducing the long-term reoffending risk.
NTUC champions all workers including ex-offenders
“Building the pool of inclusive employers, job retention, and career progression are longer-term challenges that the Labour Movement hopes to address together with employers, unions, and partners so that ex-offenders can look to their jobs as a source of confidence and purpose. This begins with fair employment practices, which we will continue to push for all segments of workers, ex-offenders included,” shared ASG Patrick Tay.
Since the launch of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, NTUC has engaged workers of all collars, ages and sectors – most recently ex-offenders and inmates.
If you have any career-related concerns, you may share your thoughts at https://conversations.ntuc.sg/. Your voice will impact the refresh of NTUC’s compact with workers.