Singaporeans who do not have employers to set aside funds for their training will not have to dig deep into their pockets to acquire fresh skills, thanks to the new SkillsFuture Credit account.
This account, which will see the Government giving each Singaporean aged 25 and older an initial sum of $500, can be used to pay for training courses and will help even long-neglected groups such as freelancers and the self-employed to improve their skills.
But MPs have called for more to be done for stay-at-home mothers and cabbies, particularly in lifting their retirement savings and whittling down long working hours. Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) was a leading voice in speaking up for homemakers yesterday.
She wants to see measures that will help them keep up with the demands of a changing job market.
Reiterating suggestions made by the Women's Wing of the People's Action Party last week, she said husbands should be allowed to transfer some of the unused money in their SkillsFuture Credit accounts to their wives, and children to their mothers.
Training courses could also offer e-learning classes so women can learn from home. "This will help homemakers have confidence to return to the workforce should they wish to do so in the future," said Ms Tan.
"It may seem trivial to some, but this is a very important point as I've seen many women... (who) can't stay connected and can't keep their skills updated.
"What happens is they lose the confidence to (return to work)."
Dr Fatimah Lateef (Marine Parade GRC) suggested that the Government look at new ways to help stay-at-home mothers with their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.
Meanwhile, Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who is executive adviser to the National Taxi Association, said that while the Budget brought good news to cabbies, in terms of skills upgrading, they still struggle with low CPF savings and long work hours.
A recent local study found that cabbies are plagued by fatigue, he said. These drivers, many of whom have health problems, spend more than 10 hours cooped up in their taxis each day.
One of his suggestions is to explore ways to reach out to new drivers, or tap the inactive pool of people who hold taxi driver licences, to help cabbies split the burden of long shifts.
Of the 28,000 taxis plying Singapore roads, only 66 per cent are shared by a hirer and a relief driver. "We should find more ways to make our taxis work harder, not the taxi drivers," he said.
This article was first published on March 4, 2015.
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