After 20 years of being a product engineer in manufacturing, Mr Chong Choon Yew felt a strong urge to switch to social work.

The passion to do good had been growing in him for 10 years, since he began volunteering at Buddhist foundation Tzu Chi Singapore.

Also, he struggled to balance work and family as he had to be on standby every weekend.

In April,the 45-year-old father of a 13-year-old boy quit his job and went in search of work in the social services sector.

But without relevant professional experience, his three- month search led nowhere until a career coach with Workforce Singapore (WSG) advised him to include his volunteer experience in his resume.

Coupled with help from another WSG career coach, Mr Chong passed an interview to be a care coordinator at the People's Association (PA), where he will manage a team of volunteers who organise activities for the elderly.

Said Mr Andrew Er, 30, the career coach who helped Mr Chong improve his interview skills: "Mr Chong's years of volunteer experience are valuable in his new job."

As a Tzu Chi volunteer, Mr Chong would visit families on financial aid to assess their situation. He also set up recycling centres for residents.

Mr Chong said: "I am grateful for this new opportunity at PA. I hope my passion will help me in my new role, and I plan to upgrade myself along the way."

He also gave credit to WSG's new Career 360 programme, which connected him with others seeking work in the same field. They would meet every fortnight to discuss their job search progress and share tips.

"It is good to have such support because it is lonely looking for a job on your own," said Mr Chong.

Career 360 is among four new programmes for job seekers announced by the WSG yesterday.

The others include Career Catalyst and Career Recharger, both of which began in April as pilot runs.

Career Catalyst, which gives one-on-one career guidance to help job seekers plan their career goals, has been attended by 150 people.

Career Recharger provides one-on-one counselling sessions for those struggling to cope emotionally with job loss. It has helped seven people so far.

The fourth programme comprises workshops on delivering a good "elevator pitch". In other words, to market oneself effectively in the amount of time it takes for a ride in a lift.

The programmes are free.

Meanwhile, WSG's Careers Connect centre at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar has been redesigned, with rooms for job interviews and 20 desktop computers for job seekers to access online career resources.

The opening hours of a lobby area with computer terminals and information on jobs in demand will be extended. It will be open from 7am to 10pm, instead of 9am to 5pm.

The Tampines and Woodlands Careers Connect centres have also been redesigned to be more user-friendly.


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