Singapore Employers Are Hiring Former Inmates, Here’s Why
Singapore/ Venture/ Careers

Explainer: SG's Inclusive Approach for Ex-Offenders Seeking Employment


Singapore is regarded as one of the safest countries and ranked sixth out of 163 nations, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index. The city-state is a beacon of law and order and has minimal crime rates because of stringent legal policies and comprehensive public safety compliance against criminal activities.

In reality, even the safest places in the world have crimes. During the first six months of 2023, the Singapore Police Force reported that the top crimes of concern included instances of outrage of modesty, voyeurism, shop theft, and theft in dwelling. On the other hand, Singapore’s drug situation remains under control, despite witnessing a 10% increase in drug abusers among individuals below 30 years old in 2023. The most common substances abused include methamphetamine, heroin, and cannabis.

Last year, the total offender population in community corrections dropped from 2,920 in 2022 to 2,694, accompanied by a decline in the assault rate per 10,000 inmates to 41.4 in 2023 versus 62.6 in 2022.

Nevertheless, Singapore maintained its recidivism rate standing at 22% in 2021, particularly for repeat drug abusers, which is the lowest figure globally, according to the annual statistics released for 2023 by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS).

Safer Nation

In line with keeping recidivism low and fostering a safer nation, the SPS joined hands with Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) to provide career facilitation and retention support. In 2021, YRSG introduced skills training for reformed individuals under the Community Based Programme.

“[The programme] enables inmates and ex-offenders to continuously upgrade their skills and deepen their knowledge in their selected fields,” according to YRSG.

Based on SPS statistics, the number of employers that support the hiring of returning citizens recorded an increase of 6,516 in 2023 versus 6,265 in 2022, and 94% of inmates secured employment referred by YRSG prior to their release.

Moreover, YRSG signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2023 with Nanyang Polytechnic’s Asian Culinary Institute “to enhance employability and employment opportunities for inmates and ex-offenders in the food services industry,” the press release read.

This collaboration aims to provide the necessary support and guidance for ex-offenders to help them become productive members of society while encouraging all employers to embrace inclusivity in hiring and providing career opportunities for all.

Second Chances and Career Opportunities

The societal stigma that ex-offenders may experience includes a multitude of challenges in their personal, social, and legal lives that may prevent them from living a productive life. In a 2023 study conducted by the Urban Institute, only 40% of the employers surveyed were willing to consider hiring an ex-offender, with jobs in construction and manufacturing, but companies in the retail and service sectors that require customer-facing roles are unlikely to consider hiring an ex-offender.

On a global scale, many former prisoners find themselves confined to working in low-wage jobs, making it harder for them to rejoin the workforce even after fulfilling their legal obligations and serving sentences. With this, YRSG provided tailored training for inmates designed to familiarise them with digitalisation in various industry sectors. Its framework encompasses both generic and job-specific skills and competencies, covering workplace literacy, digital literacy, and employability skills.

Trainees are expected to learn technical skills in food and beverage, logistics, precision engineering, and media. Interested applicants may visit YRSG’s job portal, Partners’ Repository Engagement Platform (PREP), to learn more about the latest job opportunities. Some companies that are actively hiring, as of this writing, include Aroma Food Enterprise, Hong Ming, Freshening Industries, Marbleture, White Beehon Restaurant, and more. Employers interested in posting job openings on PREP should ensure to meet YRSG’s employer eligibility requirements here.

For the uninitiated, employers who hire former inmates from April 2023 to December 2025 will receive support through the Uplifting Employment Credit (UEC).

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