More support for lower- to middle-income workers with enhanced Work Trial: Josephine Teo

More support for lower- to middle-income workers with enhanced Work Trial: Josephine Teo

Channel NewsAsia·2018-03-06 01:35

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan meets a landscape worker employed by Swee Bee Contractor outside the National University of Singapore. (Photo: Calvin Hui)

SINGAPORE: Those looking to try out more jobs and assess new careers will get more support through an expanded Work Trial programme, Second Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 5).

“There is scope to enhance the upward mobility of lower to middle income workers by helping them take up better jobs,” Mrs Teo said in her Committee of Supply debate speech.

“Part of this is done through efforts … to uplift and transform jobs. But the other part is helping workers to access such jobs.”

Work Trial, part of the Adapt and Grow initiative that helps Singaporean workers adapt to changing job demands and further their careers, has “proven useful in plugging information gaps”, Mrs Teo said, as she unveiled an improved programme called Career Trial.

Under Career Trial, the maximum training allowance for Singapore Citizens (SCs) will be doubled from S$1,200 to S$2,400 per month.

SCs who have been actively looking for jobs for six months or more can also receive the one-off retention incentive of S$1,000. Previously, this only applied to those who looked for 12 months or more.

In addition, the maximum salary support for employers who hire those who have undergone Career Trial will also increase from S$3,600 to S$5,400 per hire over a six-month period, Mrs Teo said.

“To support inclusiveness at workplaces, the additional retention incentive and salary support for employers will be extended to persons with disabilities regardless of unemployment duration,” Workforce Singapore (WSG) said in a press release.

These changes will take effect from Apr 1. Last year, the number of jobseekers placed through Work Trial has increased five times from about 100 to 500, Mrs Teo said

MORE SUPPORT FOR UNEMPLOYED RANK-AND-FILE WORKERS

Turning her focus to rank-and-file workers, Mrs Teo said they comprise 40 per cent, or 10,800 workers, of the Adapt and Grow initiative. These workers can undergo Place and Train (PnT) programmes to re-skill and take on new roles.

More than 2,000 workers were placed under PnT programmes last year, a more than 50 per cent increase from 2016, Mrs Teo said.

To increase support for long-term unemployed rank-and-file workers, WSG will from Apr 1 provide more salary support for employers who hire and reskill SCs that have been unemployed for six months or more.

This funding will be capped at to 90 per cent of the monthly salary, with the payout capped at S$3,000 per month. Previously, funding was capped at 70 per cent of the monthly salary, with the payout capped at S$2,000 per month

NEW PROFESSIONAL CONVERSION PROGRAMMES

Besides improvements to the PnT programme, WSG will also enhance the Attach and Train (AnT) programme by introducing three new Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) by the second quarter of this year.

The new programmes are artificial intelligence programmers, robotics engineers and food production specialists. These are areas where manpower demand is expected to increase, Mrs Teo said.

In addition, Mrs Teo said the PCP model will evolve to work with companies ahead of time and not wait for workers to be retrenched.

“The key is to engage the companies early, before they have firmed up their plans,” she said. By doing so, it is more likely that their existing employees can be a part of the company’s future, instead of being just part of the past.”

For example, WSG can introduce re-deployment PCPs like Consumer Banking in companies, where existing staff are re-trained and re-deployed.

“As the bank transforms its frontline services, hundreds of bank tellers and cashiers are adapting to do digital marketing, data analysis and product development,” Mrs Teo said. “These staff can avoid painful retrenchment, and at the same time help their employers meet their new manpower needs.”

UPDATES TO MISSED MATCH AND MISMATCH FIGURES

In the bigger picture, Mrs Teo said the Adapt and Grow initiative helped place more than 25,000 jobseekers into new jobs and careers last year, a 20 per cent increase from the 21,000 in 2016.

But of the 25,000 jobseekers placed, about 60 per cent, or 15,000 involved missed matches. “The jobseekers were job-ready but somehow missed finding the right employer,” she explained, adding that WSG and the Employment and Employability Institute helped them find a match.

To that end, Mrs Teo announced the transformation of JobsBank to a new platform called MyCareersFuture. “MyCareersFuture will have new features to help jobseekers and employers find better matches,” Mrs Teo said.

For example, the new platform will have intelligent job matching and can recommend jobs to jobseekers that would best fit their skill sets. It will also highlight jobs that are supported by Adapt and Grow programmes like PCPs to help bridge job and skill mismatches.

MyCareersFuture has been up and running since Jan 2, with the portal set for official launch in the second quarter of this year.

When it comes to mismatches, where skills or wage gaps make it tough for jobseekers to find jobs, Mrs Teo said 40 per cent of the 25,000 jobseekers placed involved those with some form of mismatch. This proportion has grown from 25 per cent in 2016.

Mrs Teo added that placements of mismatch cases doubled from about 5,000 in 2016 to about 10,000 last year, reflecting “more intensive efforts to address mismatches”.

Pointing to improvements to the PCP and Career Support Programme made last year, Ms Teo said a “key focus” is to support jobseekers with skill or wage mismatches, “because they need more help”.

“So far, the Adapt and Grow initiative has been able to provide the appropriate interventions for jobseekers at different stages,” she stated.

“However, we are always looking for better ways to scale up, enhance existing programmes, or introduce new ones which will help jobseekers.”

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