SINGAPORE: The Government will work with companies to find solutions to meet their manpower needs in light of new restrictions on the Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC), Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said on Wednesday (Mar 27).
The DRC - which sets out the maximum permitted ratio of foreign workers to the total workforce in a company, will be reduced for the services sector in two steps: from 40 per cent to 38 per cent on Jan 1 next year, and to 35 per cent on Jan 1, 2021.
Speaking at Seoul Garden’s 36th anniversary celebration, Mr Chee highlighted how the Government will help businesses rely less on foreign labour.
“We’ll be looking at training and productivity solutions, and that is the reason why we put training outcomes and manpower outcomes as part of our Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG),” he said.
“Part of this will now include a up to S$10,000 grant for training purposes to help our companies when they undergo transformation, and also to (help them) pay attention to training."
READ: ‘We agonised over this’: Chee Hong Tat explains tightening of foreign worker quota for services sector
The new subsidy under PSG was introduced in this year's Budget. Enterprises which qualify for PSG can apply for an additional training subsidy to cover 70 per cent of their out-of-pocket training expenses, capped at S$10,000 per enterprise.
The Government will also "help to look for different groups of local workers" who can join the service industry, Mr Chee said.
In response to a question on using automation as a solution to manpower needs, Mr Chee explained that automation should not be the first response.
“(It) depends on the circumstances and the needs of company,” he said. “I wouldn’t start with automation as the end in mind. Automation is the solution to solving a problem.”
The Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) also promised to help companies looking to bridge the manpower gap.
CEO of e2i Gilbert Tan said that for companies looking to automate part of their work processes, it will share ideas and help them identify relevant grants and help schemes. For firms that want to improve workers' skills, it will partner them in training.
“So e2i partners them in terms of employment, training, as well as moving on ideas and solutions to help them improve the technology better," he added.