NTUC's wish-list for Budget 2019: SkillsFuture top-up, more wage help for PMEs, older workers

NTUC's wish-list for Budget 2019: SkillsFuture top-up, more wage help for PMEs, older workers

The labour movement wants more training and wage support for older workers and Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) in the upcoming Budget, said labour Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Tay on Friday (Feb 1).

SINGAPORE: The labour movement wants more training and wage support for older workers and Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) in the upcoming Budget, said labour Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Tay on Friday (Feb 1).

Speaking at the sidelines of National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) Future Jobs, Skills and Training Forum, Mr Tay said that NTUC is putting forth three suggestions.

The first is a S$500 re-top up for all working Singaporeans in their SkillsFuture Credit account, which is coming into the fourth year since its launch in 2015.

Mr Tay said that it is timely for the Government to provide a second round of top-ups, which would be in line with the overall push for workers to update their skills against a rapidly changing work landscape.

READ: More than 285,000 Singaporeans benefited from SkillsFuture Credit since launch

Mr Tay said that the half-life of skills is now five years. Those who had gone for training may see the need to renew their skills by this time, he said.

"You can't just have one skill and think you can keep with it for the rest of your life. You probably need to reskill, and reskill quite often," Mr Tay said. 

For those who have yet to tap onto their credits, Mr Tay said that they can bank it for later use. 

"You never know. You could be 25 to 30 (years old) now. Come 40 to 45, when you are a bit more vulnerable and you need to acquire skills, the programmes may be a bit more pricey ... then you can tap on the SkillsFuture credits," Mr Tay said. 

MORE WAGE HELP FOR PMES, OLDER WORKERS

Mr Tay has also suggested that the Government to extend two wage support schemes which will expire this year.

The first is the Special Employment Credit (SEC) which provides a wage offset to employers hiring workers earning less than S$4,000 and aged above 55 years old.

The scheme was introduced in 2011 to encourage employers to hire older workers. It covers about 370,000, or around three in four older Singaporean workers.

Mr Tay is suggesting that the SEC be extended for another three years.

The second scheme proposed for extension is the Career Support Programme (CSP) targeted at PMEs. Mr Tay said that NTUC is hoping for the CSP to be extended for another two years.

READ: More than 1,100 PMETs receive help from career support programme since Oct 2015

It provides short-term salary support to encourage employers to hire PMEs and is part of the Ministry of Manpower's Adapt and Grow initiative, which helps long-term unemployed PMEs jobseekers find and retain employment.

The Singapore Budget Statement 2019 will be delivered on Feb 18 by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Source: CNA/fs(hm)

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