1. Mr Chng Hwee Hong, Chairman of Yellow Ribbon Singapore, Mr Peter Lim, 2nd Deputy Chairman of Singapore Logistics Association, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
2. Good morning. It is my pleasure to deliver the Opening Address for the MOU signing between Yellow Ribbon Singapore and Singapore Logistics Association.
3. Yellow Ribbon Singapore, or YRSG for short, has been championing initiatives to support the successful reintegration of ex-offenders into society. A key focus of these reintegration efforts is to prepare inmates to re-join the national workforce upon release, by equipping them with the necessary skills training, and providing job placement and career coaching services. Under the TAP (Train And Place) and Grow initiative, YRSG has been working with like-minded partners such as employers, trade associations and training institutions to set up training academies inside prisons and establish career progression pathways for inmates and ex-offenders. The initiative was started in the precision engineering and media sectors, and I am glad that YRSG is now expanding it to the logistics sector.
4. The logistics sector is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy. It is an enabler for the rest of the economy; without a vibrant and efficient logistics sector, many businesses will find that they cannot import the supplies and raw materials that they need to operate their businesses or export their goods to meet global demand. As the volume and complexity of cross-border trade increases, the logistics sector is also expected to grow.
5. I am heartened that the Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) and its member companies have found it worthwhile to pursue this MOU and partner with YRSG to offer employment opportunities to ex-offenders. They will be jointly setting up a logistics training academy to allow more than 500 inmates a year to undergo training and develop requisite skillsets to join the logistics sector, while still serving time in prison. Inmates who complete their training will even receive a Certificate in Logistics Operations, and their employability will naturally increase upon release.
Supporting Workforce Re-entry and Career Development Opportunities
6. Hiring ex-offenders is society’s most powerful way of demonstrating acceptance. Research has shown that employment can help to lower recidivism rates too, so offering ex-offenders employment is in fact also helping to keep our society crime-free. This is why it is so important for all of us to rally together to uplift ex-offenders and provide them with the necessary skills and support to re-enter the workforce.
7. But employing ex-offenders is not enough. It is equally important to provide sustained support to help them progress and grow in their careers. I am therefore encouraged to hear that ex-offenders will have the opportunity to pursue further education at the Diploma or Advanced Diploma-level with SLA’s training arm, The Logistics Academy (TLA). SLA and member companies have also pledged to support YRSG to provide opportunities for qualified inmates and ex-offenders to deepen their skills and grow their careers.
Contributing Positively at Work and to Society
8. When given the opportunity and provided with the right support, many ex-offenders can contribute positively to their companies and to society. I have been told of many examples of ex-offenders who have been promoted up the ranks, been given leadership positions, and who have had very fulfilling careers. These ex-offenders each have their own story to tell, and their employers and colleagues can also learn from their past, and be encouraged and inspired. I hope all employers will be as enlightened as SLA and its companies, to recognize them as assets which enrich the diversity and experience of our organisations. If given the right opportunities and environment, they can bloom and contribute much to society. I hope that more associations and organisations can come forward to work with YRSG so that even more ex-offenders can be supported.
9. In closing, let me once again congratulate YRSG and SLA on this MOU signing. This collaboration illustrates how companies and public sector institutions can work together to provide equal opportunities for ex-offenders. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive society for ex-offenders.
10. Thank you.