WITH the opening of its new headquarters in Eunos, the social enterprise arm of Mendaki will have six times the training capacity of its old office in Toa Payoh.

Mendaki Sense officially opened the doors yesterday to its new premises, which has room for up to 250 students.

The 10,000 sq ft space, on the fifth floor of the WIS@ Changi building, has eight training rooms compared with only two, for 20 students each, at its former headquarters.

The expanded space reflects Mendaki's commitment to lifelong learning, Minister-in- charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said at its opening, which was also attended by Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.

"It will take some time for us to recoup our investment, but it's money well spent," Dr Yaacob told reporters.

"It signals to the community that we are here to be your partner for the rest of your life, in terms of lifelong learning."

Mendaki Sense runs four other centres that provide training programmes and career advice to the Malay/Muslim community.

Besides the training rooms, the new headquarters also has two computer labs and four multi-purpose rooms that can be turned into career counselling corners or meeting rooms.

Its location in the island's eastern part, where a great number of Malays live, and its comprehensive facilities will help Mendaki Sense better serve people who struggle to find a job or advance their careers, said Dr Yaacob, who is also chairman of Mendaki, a Malay self-help group.

"It was not too long ago that we could finish our schooling and have all the education we needed for the rest of our career," he added.

"Now, with the fast-changing economy that comes with demands for new skill sets and knowledge... we must be a community of lifelong learners."

Mendaki Sense, set up in 2004, has trained almost 120,000 people and helped more than 28,000 job-seekers.

The new headquarters would also rent space to partners such as voluntary welfare organisations or Malay/Muslim organisations, to provide them with an affordable venue for their programmes.

Dr Yaacob also said that Mendaki Sense wants to align itself with the Aspire recommendations, which aim to improve the quality of education and job prospects for students of the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics.