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HRTV: Your next boss could be an ex-prisoner

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Singapore – Companies that recognise ex-offenders as an available talent source and provide opportunities for them to reintegrate in the workforce will profit from their uniqueness.

Every year in Singapore, more than 10,000 ex-offenders are released from prison and drug rehabilitation centres. Paulin Chua, the assistant director for food services and business enterprise and industry at The Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), said this gives the local job market a constant labour source.

Chua shared a success story of a former inmate who started out as a café assistant and has worked his way up to manage a restaurant outlet. However, reintegrating ex-inmates into a company requires “buy-in” from senior management.

According to Chua, ex-offenders typically go through a second type of imprisonment beyond the physical jail cell. “The second tier is the social prison, and this is where acceptance is very important,” Chua said. “They [Management] must be able to accept ex-offenders amongst their pool of talent.”

Eric Neo, executive chef at Crown Plaza Changi Airport Hotel, agreed everybody deserves a second chance. “I would really encourage the employers to hire people because of their skills and merit, not because of what they have done in the past.”

Although the hotel does not have any ex-offender on its payroll, Neo is open to hiring them if given the opportunity. He said, “If he has the skills and what it takes to be a cook in the kitchen, we will hire him.”

Eva, an inmate whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, hopes more companies in Singapore will be open to hiring ex-offenders. But she acknowledged that some employers are hesitant to hire ex-offenders because of a “small group of inmates who have spoilt the image”. She hopes companies will give ex-offenders a fair and equal opportunity to prove themselves.

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

May 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

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