BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) is aiming to provide 200 welfare recipients with employment this year, in a bid to break the cycle of poverty that persists within low-income households.

During the Legislative Council meeting on Monday, MCYS minister YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin shared that the ministry will be running a pilot project to equip monthly welfare recipients with the necessary skills for employment.

The minister was responding to YB Pg Hj Ali Pg Maon who suggested a programme similar to the I-Ready — an apprenticeship programme which aims to increase the marketability of unemployed graduates — for individuals from low income households.

“[I-Ready] is only for unemployed graduates [but] we should acknowledge that there are other [jobseekers without tertiary education] who are struggling,” said the LegCo member.

In his reply, the minister said the new project — dubbed the Teguhkan Ekonomi Keluarga Asas Berdikari or TEKAD — comes on the back of previous projects that began in 2017,  which aims to empower “able bodied and able to work” welfare recipients with vocational and entrepreneurial skills relevant to the contemporary age.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Hj Aminuddin speaking at a Legislative Council session. Photo: Hazimul Wa’ie/The Scoop

The ministry hopes to achieve this through collaborations with vocational institutions like the Youth Development Centre, Centre for Capacity Building, JobCentre Brunei as well as stakeholders from the private sector.

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This previous project called the BKB 100 was where a hundred welfare recipients were chosen to undergo skills training courses. According to the minister, out of the hundred, six secured employment while 23 individuals proceeded to start a business.

92 dependents of the welfare recipients were also able to secure jobs through the project and its second cohort that began last year was able to provide 31 recipients with employment.

According to YB Dato Hj Aminuddin, since April 2016, under different programs conducted by the ministry, 101 welfare recipients have secured jobs and are still working. With this in mind, the ministry is setting its sights on providing 200 welfare recipients with jobs for this year.

Touching on other initiatives to empower welfare recipients, YB Dato Hj Aminuddin also mentioned a programme that encourages individuals to start a business by enrolling them in courses that teach entrepreneurship and marketing.

Since April 2016, out of the 68 participants that joined the programme, more than half are still in business today.

The minister went on to say that MCYS will continue to prioritise the welfare of disadvantaged individuals ultimately to ensure that all residents of the nation are given “the same rights, opportunities and access” in contributing towards that nation’s development.

He added that the ministry is also hoping to provide employment opportunities for all residents under the Community Development Department’s Welfare Home Complex (KRK).

“Twenty-six residents have been released from the complex in the past three years, 17 residents have either found employment, continued their studies or started their own businesses, two have joined the National Service Program [however] seven are still looking for employment”.

In 2017, there were 6,001 heads of families registered as monthly welfare beneficiaries under the ministry which includes single mothers and people with disabilities.