Vocational training

YMCA raises $163,000 for job training for at-risk youth and those with special needs

SINGAPORE – Youth at risk and young people with special needs will receive more support for arts, sports and vocational training programs thanks to a fund that has raised $163,000 of a gala dinner.

YMCA chief executive Wu Mei Ling said 740 at-risk youths have completed the YMCA’s six-month intervention program, which aims to help them find jobs or continue their education.

She was speaking at the gala dinner on Friday night, which was attended by President Halimah Yacob.

The six-month program which was launched in 2011, gives out-of-school youth skills they can immediately put into practice in a job.

Skills taught include hairdressing, culinary arts and digital marketing, as well as soft skills such as interview and conflict management techniques.

YMCA President Tony Soh said the charity’s collaboration with social enterprise Inclusive, which began in 2022, has been successful in training and placing people with autism and developmental disabilities in catering and hospitality jobs with seven employers. The YMCA has worked with more than 15 companies through the program.

Twenty young people with special needs were enrolled in the five-week training program, and 10 obtained full-time employment after completing their training.

The YMCA trains them in specialized skills such as housekeeping, general cleaning and customer service. Inclus’ specialists assess and support interns, from their suitability for suitable jobs to their support during job interviews.

Included also follows graduates and their employers for a year, working with their families to resolve issues that arise during their employment.

Housewife Celine Chan, 53, has an autistic daughter who took the housekeeping course and found a full-time job as a waitress at Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview Hotel.

Ms Clarissa Ng, 19, performs kitchen tasks such as polishing cutlery, cleaning tables and serving guests, with the support of a work coach.

Ms. Chan said her daughter has been enjoying the work and helping clean the table at home since she completed the training program.

Ms. Ng, an aspiring cook, also helps her mother bake cupcakes for her home-based business.

“I’m glad she got a full-time job and it’s something she wants to do,” Ms. Chan said. “Hopefully she can keep her job and earn a salary, and be able to handle work stress and social communication.”

Other YMCA programs for youth with special needs include dance, swimming and rock climbing lessons.