SINGAPORE: Badly hit by the impact of COVID-19 on commercial aviation, Singapore’s aerospace industry is getting a lifeline with the extension of the enhanced training support package to the sector, providing workers with more than 13,000 highly subsidised training places.
Part of the Stabilisation and Support Package announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat earlier this year, the package aims to encourage companies to upgrade their employees and position themselves for recovery in the future.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang announced the measures on Tuesday (Sep 1) during a visit to a Singapore Aero Engine Services Private Limited (SAESL) facility in Loyang.
Mr Chan said the package was a demonstration of Singapore’s confidence that the sector would eventually recover.
“Even as we’ve having a bit of lower demand now, we’re making full use of our time to make sure that our workers are ready for the next level,” he said.
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With this package for the aerospace sector, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) will provide companies with enhanced training support from Sep 1 until Dec 31, 2020.
In response to queries from CNA, SSG said funding for the package amounted to an estimated S$14 million for the four months.
Firms who send their employees for selected sector-specific training programmes will receive enhanced absentee payroll at 90 per cent of hourly basic salary, capped at S$10 per hour; as well as enhanced course fee support at up to 90 per cent of course fees, up from 50 per cent.
SSG and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) will work with five appointed training providers to increase their training capacity during this period - namely the National University of Singapore, NTUC LearningHub, SIA Engineering Company, ST Engineering Aerospace and Temasek Polytechnic - will together offer about 100 courses.
Together, they will offer about 100 courses, including Quality & Safety Management System in Aerospace and WSQ (Workforce Skills Qualification) Perform Aircraft General Maintenance.
Such courses are aimed at helping workers deepen their knowledge in areas such as aircraft maintenance and regulatory frameworks.
SSG and EDB worked closely with trade associations and chambers as well as unions to put together the relief measures, engaging also with aerospace companies - such as SAESL and General Electric Aviation - to understand their needs.
Singapore’s aerospace sector - which employs more than 22,000 people, with the industry’s output surpassing S$11 billion in 2018 - has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with companies such as American aerospace giant Pratt & Whitney announcing layoffs in recent months.
“The unions lobbied hard for an enhanced training and support package for the aerospace industry to support workers’ training during this lull period, as part of our efforts to save jobs,” said NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) Aerospace and Aviation Cluster vice chairman Sazali Zainal.
“We urge companies to take full advantage of this opportunity to deepen workers’ skills, and very importantly, work with the union to overcome any challenges they may face during this difficult time,” added Mr Sazali, who is also president of the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees’ Union.
EDB's managing director Chng Kai Fong said that although the impact of COVID-19 on the global aerospace industry was severe and expected to last for some time, the enhanced training support package would "enable aerospace companies to upskill their workforce in preparation for the eventual recovery and growth".
He added: “Over the years we have created good jobs and built up core capabilities in the sector to serve global markets. Aerospace remains an important industry for Singapore and EDB will continue to partner aerospace companies to weather this period of difficulty, while preserving jobs and capabilities.”
Since February, the enhanced training support package has been extended to six other sectors - tourism, air transport, retail, food services, land transport as well as arts and culture.
More than 35,000 employees across 920 companies have taken up almost 84,000 training places under the package since then.