New scheme offers SMEs flexibility in retaining and hiring foreign workers

The two-year pilot project was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.
The two-year pilot project was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will get help in hiring and retaining foreign workers under the Lean Enterprise Development scheme, which opened for applications on Wednesday.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) will allow some companies to temporarily retain more of their better-skilled foreign workers as long as they commit to cutting their overall foreign workforce numbers eventually.

Some may even be allowed to hire foreign experts - who will not count on the foreign workers quota - to train local staff.

This flexibility is mainly aimed at helping SMEs boost productivity by cutting their foreign workforce numbers through automation.

Under the two-year pilot project, announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Wednesday, companies will get more flexibility in how they hire and retain their foreign workers for up to three years.

Companies must apply to MOM to join the two-year pilot project, which starts in October.

The MOM also announced a new multi-agency taskforce lead by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and SPRING Singapore to coordinate the implementation of various government schemes to help SMEs.