SINGAPORE - A new training framework is being created to help professionals and volunteers deal with an increasingly diverse range of offenders.

Industry insiders said they are having to deal with a rise in younger, better educated inmates and ex-criminals with a high risk of reoffending.

The Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-offenders (Care) Network - an umbrella body of agencies involved in rehab work - plans to help its staff tackle such problems with the new training plan, which is expected to be finalised by the end of this year.

The network is made up of eight core members, such as the Singapore Prison Service and Singapore Anti- Narcotics Association, as well as over 100 partners who work with them to rehabilitate prisoners.

The chairman of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) - one of Care's core members - Mr Chng Hwee Hong said on Wednesday: "There are two polar groups now, the older ones with lower education and the younger, sophisticated ones with higher education. We need different skills to handle different groups."

Speaking at the network's inaugural workplan seminar, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said: "The proposed framework will equip volunteers with the relevant skills, qualifications and attitudes required to work in the sector."

Mr Chng said the initiative is expected to allow Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) that currently run their own training programmes to all follow the same training plan.

He added that such a framework would also prevent duplication and wastage among the VWOs and allow them to share their best practices. Score chief executive Teo Tze Fang said aftercare professionals and volunteers are expecting to work with more inmates with a higher risk of re-offending in the future.

One possible solution to ensure that they can deal with such re-offenders is to train them to use "information based on scientific evidence", he added.

Currently, VWOs such as the Singapore After-Care Association (Saca) and the Hindu Centre conduct their own training programmes. Saca volunteer programme manager Fadzillah Habi Mohamed said the new framework could help its 225 volunteers to overcome some of the difficulties they currently face.

This could include coping with disappointment when ex-offenders re-offend and maintaining a smooth relationship with them.

Ms Yasodhara Dhoraisingam, vice-president at the Hindu Centre and a religious counsellor, said: "The new framework will help us develop special skill-sets. It will make us not just passionate but efficient volunteers."