SINGAPORE: With professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) expected to face job, skill and wage mismatches in the current economy, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Monday (Mar 6) provided more details on how the Government would enhance its Adapt and Grow initiative to support this group, including those who have been unemployed for a longer period of time.
The Adapt and Grow initiative was announced during Budget 2016, to help PMETs looking for new jobs.
JOBS MISMATCH: MID-LEVEL SUPPORT
Mr Lim said the Government launched 36 Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) in 2016 to help more than 1,000 PMETs switch careers and take on jobs in sectors with good growth. But he noted concerns raised by Members of Parliament (MPs) that many of the jobs under the programme were entry-level positions.
MP for West Coast GRC Patrick Tay said mature workers with “decades of work experience and skill” come in at an entry level under the programme, which he found “unsatisfactory”. “There is strong inertia from many ... to explore new industries due to the high opportunity cost,” he said.
Mr Lim said to encourage employers to offer more such PCP openings at mid-level, the Government would raise the salary support caps from S$2,000 to S$4,000. Mr Lim said that with this change, mid-level jobs with a salary of up to S$5,700 could be supported.
SKILLS MISMATCH: NEW "ATTACH AND TRAIN" PROGRAMME
Mr Lim said the Government’s Place and Train programme under the PCP has worked well so far to equip PMETs with new skills and ensuring that they can put these skills to use at their workplace. Under this programme, trainees are employed by a particular company before they receive training to convert their skills for the new job.
But Mr Lim pointed out that PMETs now face “a new bottleneck” during this period of economic transition where the pace of hiring is slower despite the presence of a manpower demand.
In some sectors, Mr Lim said companies are freezing their hiring due to the economic uncertainty. He said “precious time is wasted” if one has to wait for employers to begin hiring before conversion training begins.
Hence Mr Lim said the new "Attach and Train" initiative, first announced during this year’s Budget, would help convert the skills of PMETs ahead of job placement. Providing more details, Mr Lim said the initiative would provide participants with a training allowance of between half and 70 per cent of the prevailing salaries for jobs they are training for, capped at S$4,000 a month.
Employers are not required to employ participants once training is over but Mr Lim said to lower the risk of non-placement, trainees would be attached to specific companies. This would also allow trainees to familiarise themselves with their new jobs and workplace. He said the initiative will be introduced to sectors with promising growth.
The initiative will be rolled out in the logistics sector first as this was one of the key growth areas identified by the report recently released by the Committee on the Future Economy. Other potential industries include healthcare, biologics and the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.
WAGE MISMATCH: SUPPORT FOR MATURE PMETs
Mr Lim also provided details on the enhancements of the Career Support Programme, to help three groups of PMETs who have been unemployed for a longer duration. Employers who hire unemployed mature PMETs who have been actively searching for jobs for a year or more would receive a higher wage support for a longer period of time - 18 months compared to the current 12 months.
For this group, the Government would help pay half of the worker’s wages for the first six months, 30 per cent for the subsequent six months, and 20 per cent for the last six months.
For PMETs aged 40 to 49 who have either been made redundant or unemployed for six months, the Government would now double their wage support. This could be up to S$25,000 in wage support given to employers who hire them.
Finally, employers of PMETs below 40 years of age would receive 20 per cent for the first six months, and 10 per cent for the next. In the end, Mr Lim said the success of the enhanced Adapt and Grow initiative is not how much money the Government puts in to help both jobseekers and employers. “(It depends on) how much our jobseekers are prepared to adapt and grow, and how much our employers are prepared to be fair and inclusive,” he said.