More Companies Can Benefit From Untapped Talent Pool

SBF Foundation and its partners aim to harness their knowledge and networks to enhance employability and support for four vulnerable groups: homeless/rough sleepers, unemployed parents of at-risk children, persons with mental health conditions and women facing challenges

With a common goal to uplift the lives of vulnerable individuals and their families, the SBF Foundation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide dignity and hope for these individuals through employment.

Guest-of-Honour NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Mr Chee Hong Tat graced the MoU signing ceremony on 18 May 2022 at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability, with SBF Foundation’s partners-Tote Board, e2i and Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) in attendance-. This public-private partnership highlights the importance of a collective effort by four partners working closely together to contribute their resources and expertise to build a more resilient and inclusive local workforce.

Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman of the SBF Foundation said, “Being employed provides one with a sense of security, achievement and purpose in life. The SBF Foundation is cognisant that improving the employment prospects for Singapore’s more vulnerable workers is a relentless effort, and we wish to rally our members of the business community to join us and our partners in these efforts.”

As the social impact arm of the SBF, the Foundation endeavours to create opportunities for its members to uplift Singaporeans through corporate social responsibility and corporate giving programmes. The strengthening of two initiatives — Employability Fund and Empower Circles, provides businesses with platforms to make an impact through collective giving, providing jobs, and forging of progressive hiring practices.

Each initiative is designed to give holistic support to uplift disadvantaged groups.

Employability Fund: Collective pooling of resources to support employment of vulnerable groups

Employee from Sankyu (S) Pte Ltd. Photo by LHZB

As various industries in Singapore are facing a labour crunch in the midst of Singapore’s reopening, employers can benefit from  this untapped pool of local manpower.

This is where the SBF Foundation’s Employability Fund comes in. The Employability Fund is a platform for the business community to collectively support programmes for vulnerable groups to enter or re-enter the workforce.

These groups are faced with challenging life circumstances and will benefit from steady employment. They include homeless/rough sleepers, unemployed parents of at-risk children, persons with mental health conditions and women facing challenges.

SBF Foundation works in partnership with four programme partners to support and uplift these four groups of vulnerable communities to transform their lives. These organisations work with companies that are open to hiring vulnerable individuals, and to assess if there are suitable job opportunities for them.

“The rising costs of living impact the underprivileged in our community even more. They need opportunities to be able to uplift and support themselves and their families. Hence, I am prepared to provide employment opportunities whenever I am hiring,” says Mr Benny Chua, a manager at the ValuDollar Store@Jalan Kukoh, who hired an individual staying at a shelter managed by New Hope Community Services.

Similarly, H.A.M Creations, an event management company with a philosophy of providing opportunities to disadvantaged groups, hired Jeffri, who lives in a transitional shelter, despite his lack of relevant skills and provided training to empower him with the skills for the long run.

Another company, Sankyu Pte Ltd, accommodated flexible working hours for its employee, Mr Ong, who had a mental health condition and had to go for medical appointments for treatment. The company’s openness in understanding the areas of support Mr Ong required was crucial in helping him do well at work, while managing both his mental health and family commitments.

Employers’ willingness to provide opportunities are invaluable as employment opens the doors for them to access support in areas such as housing and childcare, as well as reduces their reliance on welfare.

At the same time, hiring these individuals help business owners fill a manpower shortage and meet labour challenges.

Businesses can also make donations which go directly to the various programmes that provide employability support. The Foundation aims to raise annually $1 million for the Employability Fund. SBF members are invited to participate and contribute collectively to this joint effort.

[subhead] Empower Circles: Sharing progressive hiring practices for the benefit of employer and employee

Beyond funding, having the knowledge about the systemic barriers faced by vulnerable members of the community trying to gain access to the workforce is equally crucial.

This is where Empower Circles comes in. It is a best practice-sharing platform on progressive hiring practices to fulfil manpower needs and support the employability of vulnerable individuals.

Different groups of people have different needs and there are various considerations when it comes to hiring them. Understanding the employment barriers and challenges they face these individuals face in their job search will enable employers to take the right step to make someone else’s life better.

The Body Shop has hired two women from ‘Daughters of Tomorrow’, a charity that helps women from low-income families.

Beyond just providing them with a job, The Body Shop’s unconventional rostering of allowing part-timers to choose their working hours first, allowed them flexible work arrangements of their choice. This allowed the women to attend to other matters such as family or childcare commitments. It has also led to greater job satisfaction among employees, and time and cost savings from efforts otherwise spent in hiring and training.

There are many ways to create inclusive and supportive organisational cultures. This includes putting in place practices that encourage supportive work environments, providing sufficient training and guidance; as well as allowing flexible work arrangements.

Interested businesses can register for the upcoming Empower Circles Conversation Series to hear business leaders share their best hiring practices and take the first step towards inclusive hiring.