As structural unemployment rises, we need to act faster and more proactively, said Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say.
At the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament yesterday, Mr Lim announced several enhancements to the Adapt and Grow initiative that was launched last year to help professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).
One initiative was the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) aimed at PMETs going through a mid-career switch by providing training and matching them with an employer.
Most jobs offered by employers for PCP currently are entry-level positions, Mr Lim noted.
To encourage employers to offer more PCP jobs at mid-level positions, they will get wage support of up to 70 per cent, with the cap raised from the current $2,000 to $4,000.
For the long-term unemployed or those aged 40 and above, employers will get wage support of up to 90 per cent, capped at $6,000 per month.
This is on top of training subsidies of an average of $9,000 for a six-month PCP, he added.
Mr Lim also announced:
- The Career Support Programme (CSP), which provides wage support to encourage employers to hire mid-career PMETs, will be enhanced to back employers with salary support up to $42,000 for a maximum of 18 months.The qualifying salary for CSP, which is currently set at $4,000, will be lowered to $3,600 for SMEs.It will also be extended to all PMEs who are unemployed for six months or more, regardless of their age or whether they were made redundant.
- Those under the Attach and Train programme, aimed at converting PMETs ahead of job placement, will get a training allowance of 50 to 70 per cent of prevailing salary, capped at $4,000 a month and a course fee subsidy of up to 90 per cent.It is aimed at the logistics sector for now, and other potential industries include infocomm, healthcare and biologics.
- Work Trial, aimed at the lower-skilled or low-waged workers, will be enhanced and extended from a maximum of 80 hours to up to a maximum of three months (480 hours). There will be an additional retention incentive of $1,000 at the six-month retention mark for those who have been unemployed for one year or more.
During the debate, several MPs, such as Ang Mo Kio GRC's Intan Azura Mokhtar, shared their concerns about the long-term unemployed.
In response, Mr Lim said Workforce Singapore and other agencies had helped more than 20,000 job seekers to secure jobs. He also shared several case studies of job seekers, adding that the agencies could not help every job seeker despite their "passion and commitment".
The success rate for rank-and-file workers is about 70 per cent, while the success rate for PMETs was about 60 per cent.
In an emotional moment, Mr Lim teared as he spoke about a 50-year-old single mother who approached the career centre.
Despite falling ill while pursuing training, she persevered and eventually landed a job as a clinic assistant.
In contrast, he related the example of a former logistics assistant, who had unrealistic expectations, was uncooperative and demanding.
They have not been able to find him a job and he has been uncontactable for six months.
Mr Lim said: "The success of Adapt and Grow is not how much money we put in to help our job seekers and employers, but how much our job sewekers are prepared to adapt and grow, and how much our employers are prepared to be fair and inclusive."
This article was first published on March 7, 2017.
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