A government employment assistance programme aimed at pushing single parents to find jobs has met limited success, say groups working with welfare recipients. A small number of single parents are in jobs found through the 18-month pilot scheme, New Dawn Project or Yan Hiu. But the success stories involve fewer than one in 10 of the scheme's participants and even fewer are in full-time work. A concern group said most had immense difficulties finding jobs while facing constant pressure from officers to look for work. The scheme, launched by the Social Welfare Department in April, aims to encourage single parents and child carers on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), with children aged 12 to 14, to work. Of 5,166 participants, only 470 have found employment, earning an average of HK$2,400 a month. 'The successful cases are only a minority as most cannot find jobs,' said Au Yeung Tat-chor, a social worker at the Concerning CSSA Review Alliance. Most of those who have found jobs are working as part-time cleaners, waitresses, shop assistants or domestic workers. Some work part-time as drivers and telephonists. Leung Kam-tim of the Sha Tin Women's Association - one of 18 non-government groups given funding to provide personalised employment assistance such as counselling and job matching for those with no or limited work experience - said many have not worked for years and that they were asked by potential employers to 'wait' after job interviews. He said that of their 105 cases, 12 had found part-time work and a handful had become full-timers. He said many successful participants had raised their self-esteem and sense of worth. 'At first, they lacked confidence and had low self-esteem and were scared to talk to people,' Mr Leung said. 'When they found a job, it was like having found their dignity. They were very happy and called us immediately.' Long-term dole recipient K.K. Lee, a 33-year-old mother of two who now earns HK$5,800 a month as a security guard after eight years on welfare, said she 'feels thankful' for the programme. 'I am much happier now. I feel more confident as I have found my own values,' she said, three months into her new job. Participants have to meet the department's officers once a month and produce evidence such as job interview details and company addresses to show that they have actively sought or engaged in paid employment for no less than 32 hours a month. About 2,200 recipients who have either refused to join the project or failed to comply with the requirements without 'good reasons' have had HK$200 deducted monthly from their welfare payments, which average HK$7,236. The department rejected claims the scheme was aimed at cutting welfare spending on the growing number of single-parents. It said it aimed to encourage able-bodied people to reintegrate into society. 'The job market changes quickly if they have been away for years. Many became remote and have difficulties talking to people,' said chief social security officer Yeung Kok-wah, who oversees the department's employment programmes, including New Dawn. She said the department hoped part-time jobs would be just 'the first step' to full-time jobs. The 18-month pilot scheme will affect about 18,000 single parents, who will not receive special child-care help if they find work.