70,000 more lower-wage workers to be eligible for training support scheme
Companies that employ ex-offenders and people with disabilities will also receive wage subsidies.
SINGAPORE: An estimated 70,000 more lower-income workers will qualify for a training support scheme with the lowering of the eligibility age and raising of the income cap, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said in Parliament on Wednesday (1 Mar).
Workers who are aged 30 and older, earn S$2,500 a month or less, and meet the Workfare Skills Support’s other eligibility requirements will qualify for the scheme from July this year. Currently, the workers must be at least 35 years old and earn not more than S$2,300 a month.
Lowering the eligibility age allows more lower-wage workers to upskill earlier in their careers, said Mr Zaqy.
“WSS (Workfare Skills Support) has been successful in supporting lower-wage workers in achieving more impactful employment outcomes,” he said.
Under the scheme, employers who send eligible workers for training receive absentee payroll support of 95 per cent of the worker’s basic hourly wage. From July, a cap of S$13 per hour will apply.
Self-sponsored workers who attend eligible courses will receive a training allowance of S$6 per training hour, capped at 180 hours.
Mr Zaqy also announced the cash award will increase for those who achieve full qualification for one Workforce Skills Qualifications or academic continuing education and training qualification. From July, the award will be S$800, up from S$500.
This is to encourage lower-wage workers to “undertake deeper and more sustained training”, as those who achieve full qualification are more likely to earn higher wages, he said.
HIRING EX-OFFENDERS, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Manpower Ministry also provided more details on announcements made during Budget 2023 on support for hiring certain groups.
Under the Uplifting Employment Credit, employers who hire ex-offenders through Yellow Ribbon Singapore and Singapore Prison Service’s employment programmes will receive a 20 per cent wage subsidy, capped at S$600 per month, for the first nine months of employment.
This is for Singaporeans and permanent residents released from jail in the past three years before being hired and are earning less than S$4,000 per month. It comes into effect on Apr 1. Employers who hire eligible ex-offenders directly can apply for the wage subsidies through the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.
Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said challenges that ex-offenders sometimes face are more acute in the initial years after release, as they transit from prison to the work environment.
She cited stigmatisation, limited career opportunities, low educational qualifications and lack of recent work experience as potential difficulties faced by ex-offenders.
“A hiring incentive for ex-offenders will help encourage a wider range of employers to provide job opportunities to ex-offenders,” Ms Gan said.
Employers will receive the wage support for new ex-offenders hired between April 2023 and December 2025, before the scheme is reviewed.
Wage subsidies will also increase for people with disabilities who have not worked for the past six months before being hired.
From Apr 1, companies can get funding of up to 20 per cent of such employees’ monthly income, capped at S$400 each, for the first nine months of employment. This was previously up to 10 per cent and capped at S$200 for the first six months.
This is on top of the permanent wage support of up to 20 per cent, capped at S$400 per month per employee, for employers of people with disabilities earning below S$4,000 a month.