MENDAKI has been working on a mentoring scheme to help Malay and Muslim workers learn the ropes as they climb the job ladder.

A two-year pilot was launched last October, revealed MP for Marine Parade GRC Fatimah Lateef yesterday.

Run by Mendaki's subsidiary training arm, Social Enterprise Network Singapore (Sense), it aims to help those who have recently moved to a higher position, or who have the potential to take on more responsibilities, but may not have the soft skills to ensure a smooth transition.

"When we get promoted in the PMET world, there is a lot of transformational... and mindset changes that are required," Dr Fatimah said of professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

Given how the number of Malays holding PMET jobs have increased by 6.6 per cent from 2005 to 2010, she added that it was "important to have a platform... to assist them".

Mendaki will identify suitable low-income Malay and Muslim workers and match them with a volunteer mentor from a relevant industry. The mentor will share tips and advice on supervisory and management skills, from how to negotiate to networking in the professional sector, said Dr Fatimah.

Malay self-help group Mendaki hopes to reach out to 275 workers in all, and achieve a one-to-one worker to mentor ratio. Temasek Cares, the charity arm of Temasek Holdings, will pump in $425,000 over the two years to support the programme.

Since the launch of the pilot, it has already seen 20 mentors being assigned to 31 workers, who have been working for at least eight years and come from households with a per capita income of at most $850.

One of them is Madam Normah Ahmad, a management executive in a logistics company. Over the last three years, the 41-year-old has been taking on the extra responsibilities of a safety and operations assistant on top of her human resource duties.

Her mentor, Mr Malek Ali, 50, a regional marine loss control manager at an insurance company, encouraged her to take up a diploma course to widen her prospects.

"I hope to get advice on ways to improve myself," she said. "I don't have any friends working in high positions in a company, so it's good that my mentor can give me advice on what to do."

Apart from mentoring, candidates will also have to attend Mendaki-organised workshops on leadership, communication, delegation and networking skills.

Lawyer Abdul Salim Ahmed Ibrahim, 46, agreed to volunteer as a mentor as a way of giving back to the community.

"The workers may attend upgrading courses to better themselves, but may not know how to apply what they learn in their workplace," he said. "If I can be a role model and help even just one person, why not?"

The mentors currently come from four main industries - the maritime, education, business and legal sectors.

"But if there is a demand, there is nothing stopping us from recruiting more mentors from other industries," said Dr Fatimah.