More Singapore companies hire ex-cons

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 04 2012 03:52 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2012 11:52 PM

SINGAPORE - More Singapore companies are hiring ex-convicts to ease a manpower shortage, a senior government official said, amid restrictions on hiring foreign workers.

More than 3,100 companies are currently working with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) to hire former prisoners, minister of state Heng Chee How said late Wednesday.

This was a marked increase over the 2,872 employers registered with the scheme in 2011.

An estimated 10,000 offenders are released each year from Singapore prisons, and Score trains about 5,000 of them to acquire new workplace skills, the Straits Times newspaper reported Thursday.

Score matches roughly 2,000 of the former prisoners every year with employers, the report said.

"Ex-offenders are a source of valuable Singaporean manpower" for companies seeking to deal with the labour shortage, Heng told a gathering of the state-linked rehabilitation body on Wednesday.

Singapore is facing a manpower crunch, particularly in the services sector, after imposing restrictions on foreign workers amid complaints from citizens about overcrowding and the loss of jobs to non-Singaporeans.

Score chief executive Teo Tze Fang was quoted in the Straits Times as saying that the agency was seeking to train inmates in specific skill sets in order to make them even more appealing to companies.

Employers working with Score include the Resorts World Sentosa casino and entertainment complex, which hired ex-drug offender Davien Ong in January as a trainee cook in a restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Joel Robuchon.

"I was surprised and happy that I can go to such a good restaurant to learn," Ong told the Straits Times.

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