Over 400 training opportunities in social services created for new graduates under SGUnited initiative

Over 400 training opportunities in social services created for new graduates under SGUnited initiative

More than 400 new traineeships have been created in the social services sector since July. This, along with a S$27 million dollar fund, are part of efforts to inject talent and technology into the sector. Isabelle Lim reports.

SINGAPORE: Social service agencies have created more than 400 training opportunities for fresh graduates over the last few months through the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Monday (Sep 28).

The programme, announced in March during the Resilience Budget, aims to help recent and new graduates gain work experience amid the weaker hiring sentiment due to the COVID-19 downturn. 

READ: Government to set aside S$100 million for traineeship programme amid COVID-19

Mr Masagos said he is encouraged to see more people joining the sector, with the social service workforce steadily increasing from 15,000 in 2017 to 16,500 in 2019.

New trainees bring "energy, fresh perspectives and talent" to the agencies, said the minister. 

"At the same time, the trainees are building up their skills and gaining invaluable knowledge. This will prepare them well to join our sector or their next employment opportunity,” he added.

READ: MSF to strengthen social safety nets ensuring ‘no Singaporean is left behind’ amid COVID-19: Masagos Zulkifli

Social service agencies should continue to make use of schemes such as the SGUnited Mid-Career Support Package and Jobs Growth Incentive, said Mr Masagos.

“This is a good opportunity for our sector to hire mid-career professionals from other sectors with backgrounds in technology, finance, HR or others, looking to make the switch.”

SECOND TRANCHE OF INVICTUS FUND

Mr Masagos was speaking at the virtual launch of the second tranche of The Invictus Fund.

The fund was introduced in April, raising money from the community to help social service agencies cope with the COVID-19 situation, such as maintaining their operations and making technology investments to better serve their users.

Minister Masagos speaking at launch of second tranche of The Invictus Fund
Minister of Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli delivered his address via Zoom on Sep 28, 2020. (Image: National Council of Social Service)

About S$9.2 million has been raised from the community as of Sep 21, said the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) in a media release on Monday.

It also noted the S$18.3 million top-up from the government.

READ: Fortitude Budget: Additional S$800 million set aside for COVID-19 Support Grant; S$100 one-off utilities credit

Close to S$6 million from the first tranche of The Invictus Fund was disbursed to 89 social service agencies in June this year. NCSS said 82 per cent of the funds went towards supporting agencies to keep their services accessible to users.

The remaining 18 per cent went towards building the agencies’ digital capability and infrastructure for better connectivity and IT security.

Examples include equipping employees with appropriate software and hardware to ensure service continuity and accessibility to their clients as they work from home during the “circuit breaker” period.

Vulnerable seniors and clients were also given prepaid cards to ensure connectivity to critical services.

One beneficiary, Lutheran Community Care Services (LCCS), said the funding allowed it to digitise work processes. For instance, members of the public are now able to submit digital applications while service users can access support via virtual interviews.

“The Invictus Fund allowed us to adapt, in order to continue to impact the lives of vulnerable children and future adoptive parents through our work,” said LCCS executive director Justin Mui.

NCSS on Monday also announced the launch of a one-stop technology hub - dubbed Tech-and-GO! - which helps social service agencies in their transformation journey. 

READ: About S$11.5 million raised under The Courage Fund for those affected by COVID-19 outbreak

The hub makes technology and IT equipment more accessible to the agencies by listing pre-scoped funded solutions, cutting down the time needed by social service agencies to search for suitable digital solutions.

It also offers one-to-one diagnosis and advisory services, as well as curated training courses at the strategic, managerial and operational levels, said NCSS.

“NCSS will work with our social service agencies so that we can all emerge stronger, not only adapt to the next normal but also be ready to meet the challenges of the future,” said NCSS president Anita Fam.

Source: CNA/zl(gs)

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