MORE Malay single mothers are turning to Mendaki's training arm, Social Enterprise Network (Sense), to help them find jobs.
Their numbers have leapt threefold over the past three months and the organisation expects more to come as the economic downturn continues. To deal with the increase, Mendaki Sense will step up efforts to ensure that those who can be employed do find jobs.
At a resume writing workshop held yesterday for the first 21 single mothers recommended by the Muslim Trust Fund Association, Mendaki Sense general manager Zulaiha Yusuf said the number of single mothers approaching the organisation increased from 20 in September to 59 last month.
'Many Malay single mothers will find it hard to get jobs during this period when jobs are already hard to come by. Their problems are complex,' said Madam Zulaiha.
'They have been out of the workforce for years, have low qualifications and have children to care for.'
To accommodate the rising numbers, Mendaki Sense will increase the number of workshops from once a month to twice a month next year.
At these workshops, the women can find out about current labour trends, learn to present themselves better in interviews and get help in preparing resumes.
'Many of these women have lost touch with the working world because they spent all their time caring for their families. They have no idea how to dress to an interview or what to include in a resume. We hope that the workshops will bridge this gap in understanding,' Madam Zulaiha said.
Mendaki Sense will also adopt a new strategy to help them find employment. Instead of matching them with jobs in the shortest time possible, it will send the women for training courses first.
'It will be difficult for us to get all of them jobs during the economic downturn. But they can learn skills so they will be prepared to take on new jobs when the economy picks up,' said Madam Zulaiha.
Madam Roslinda Mohd Yusuf, 42, who was widowed three years ago when her husband died of a brain haemorrhage, said the workshops and courses will help her create a better future for her three children. She hopes to attend business courses and set up a bakery so that she can earn more than the $400 a month she now makes as a sorter at SingPost.
'I was a housewife for 14 years and have little job experience. But I believe that if I am willing to learn and upgrade I will be able to get a good job,' she said.
Ms Rashida Ismail, 35, who is divorced and has two teenage sons, hopes that the courses will help her get a permanent job. She has been holding temporary jobs as a receptionist for the past year.
'I hope that by attending the courses, I will be able to get a permanent job. I don't mind if it doesn't pay a lot, just having a stable income is good enough for me,' she said.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 6, 2008.