Local professionals, managers, executives and technicians, a group collectively called PMETs, will be given help to find jobs in new industries.
To this end, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will set aside an additional S$14 million each year over the next two years to equip this group with new job skills so they can make a new start.
This was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say at an Adapt and Grow Career Fair at the Lifelong Learning Institute on Tuesday.
The additional funds brings the total funding for course fees and salary support for WDA's professional conversion programmes (PCPs) to S$40 million a year.
This fresh effort to boost job opportunities for PMETs comes a day after the release of the Ministry of Manpower's final Labour Market Report for Q1 2016; it had indicated that the unemployment rate for residents aged 50 and up had risen from 1.8 per cent to 2.2 per cent year on year.
Mr Lim said he was most concerned about unemployed workers in this age bracket who have had higher education: "Many of them have years of work experience, so the challenge for them is to adapt their past work experience to make the transition into new careers."
He said that, with a growing mismatch between job opportunities and workers' existing skills, and in light of greater structural unemployment in the coming years, the PCP initiative was an important one.
He said: "A growing number of PMETs are going to find their job expertise no longer relevant to the job opportunities of the future. More of them will have to learn new skills and get a job in an area which they may not be familiar with."
The additional S$14 million a year will thus be used to run more PCPs to help PMETs, including mid-career switchers, pick up new skills and move into new jobs.
PCPs are typically offered in a place-and-train mode; under them, citizens and permanent residents are hired by a participating employer before starting training to acquire the knowledge and competency to take on the job.
Four PCPs designed for the retail, food services and events sectors were launched at the career fair on Tuesday, bringing the current number of such programmes to 31 across 14 sectors. By 2018, there will be PCPs in 20 different sectors under the Adapt and Grow initiative announced in this year's Budget.
The four new PCPs will provide job placement and skills-training for up to 80 individuals preparing for one of four new roles as retail store managers, assistant chefs, restaurant managers and project executives each year.
Michael Lim, director of human resources and information technology of SingEx, a company from the events industry participating in PCP, said: "When we get PMETs from other industries, the key requirement is that they must want to learn. The industry is not rocket science, but there is still a need to learn the business, and go beyond by applying what they have learnt to the role. That is what we are looking for."
WDA says it aims to place more than 10,000 Singaporeans and Singapore PRs in jobs by 2018. Seven thousand people have so far been placed in jobs through PCPs, which will be launched in sectors such as aerospace and public transport in the next few months.
The career fair on Tuesday was part of the first Adapt and Grow series of career fairs and workshops running this month; they will offer 3,000 jobs, 1,200 of which are targeted at PMETs.
The series will be held quarterly.
This article was first published on June 15, 2016.
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