FOR students who struggle academically, finding steady work after leaving school can be a challenge.

Even when they do land jobs, they may need extra time and training.

Yesterday, a programme was officially launched to make life easier for this disadvantaged group.

Bizlink Centre Singapore, a non-profit organisation for the disadvantaged, will help students graduating from Northlight and Assumption Pathway schools find suitable jobs and keep them.

It has received a $500,000 grant from Temasek Cares, the philanthropic arm of Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings.

The scheme, which began in October, is the first of its kind in Singapore. A psychologist, an occupational therapist and job placement officers from the centre match students who have learning needs with appropriate jobs.

So far, it has helped 43 youngsters from the two specialised schools, which are for students who have failed their Primary School Leaving Examination at least once.

During the first few months of employment, the team also monitors them closely by visiting them at their workplaces and gathering feedback from their supervisors.

Temasek Cares chairman Richard Magnus said that young people with learning difficulties "may need more time and training to adapt to the new environment". He added that the younger ones "may need guidance and counselling to overcome social, workplace as well as family issues".

Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, who was the guest of honour at the official launch yesterday, said there is "a lot of potential space" in the workforce for the disadvantaged, who can find their own niche.

"And the most important part of welfare really is to provide an opportunity for them to work - so that they are able to stand on their own two feet," said Mr Tan.

One beneficiary of the programme is Mr Yap Zhi Yuan. The 18-year-old, who graduated from Northlight last year, works as a retail assistant at supermarket chain FairPrice. He said: "I'm happy working there as I can make friends, and I'm very happy that I can earn money for my family."