BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Social enterprise An-Nur Harapan has launched its training centre on Friday to help youth with disabilities secure employment.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) awarded the centre on Jalan Kebangsaan to An-Nur Harapan in December last year to conduct its UNIKLEARN training and internship programme.

Seven special youths have been selected to be part of UNIKLEARN’s third cycle, including the programme’s first three female trainees.

Since March, the trainees have been assessed and trained in basic independent living, community participation skills, social and vocational skills. 

The apprentices will undergo a year-long programme at the centre and gain workplace exposure for three to six months at organisations that suit their interests and abilities.

MCYS data showed only 56 persons with disabilities were employed in 2018.

The UNIKLEARN programme started its pilot scheme in 2018 with five trainees and welcomed another seven trainees last year.

MCYS minister YB Dato Hj Aminuddin (C) in a group photo with An Nur Harapan chairman Pg Hj Salleh Ab Rahaman (3rd L) on the sidelines of the opening of An-Nur Harapan Centre on Jalan Kebangsaan. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

An-Nur Harapan general manager Melline Jaini said former trainees managed to find jobs in security services and the food and beverage industry.

“We don’t guarantee jobs, we use our connections and networks to help them land internship and we train them to be ready for the real world.

“Some of them have gone back to schools and others were able to apply a lot of the life skills,” she added.

Melline said they received 10 to 20 applications every year but selection is dependent on an assessment of applicants’ life skills and family support.

The trainees are expected to take their internship in the middle or end of September to November before the graduation in December.

All special needs centres were forced to close in May due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which Melline said had been a setback in conducting their training.

“We had to scramble quite a bit because we are a small team. A lot of the training are hands-on so we tried to get the parents involved in the training [with their children at home] and the parents had to report to us.

“It was a bit of a setback, that is why the training is now very intensive. We had to restrategise how we do things,” she added.

The centre, which relies on sponsors and donors to fund its operations, was allowed to operate at 30 percent of its total capacity when MCYS announced in June that special needs facilities can reopen with social distancing measures in place.

An-Nur Harapan resumed its full operations last month following the further easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The new centre, which also serves as An-Nur Harapan’s headquarters, houses two training rooms, an office and a common room.