Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Manpower

More help for laid-off PMETs to get new jobs

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) will be given more support in securing new jobs, after making up the bulk of retrenched workers last year.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday announced enhancements to three programmes aimed at helping higher-skilled workers adapt to a more dynamic economy.

From next month, all Singaporean PMETs who lose their jobs and are unemployed for at least six months will be able to make use of the Career Support Programme, which previously only helped long-term unemployed Singaporeans aged 40 and above. It encourages employers to hire eligible job seekers for positions paying at least $4,000 and give them on-the-job training.

Currently, the Government foots 40 per cent of the wage bill for the first six months for those aged 50 and above, and 20 per cent for those aged 40 to 49, capped at $2,800 and $1,400 respectively. This funding is then halved for the next six months.

Older PMETs aged 40 and up will now also be eligible for the programme as soon as they are made redundant. Those who are jobless for at least six months will still qualify.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

We need them to do their best to help themselves, be prepared to adapt to different jobs - if necessary, in different sectors and even at different pay, so that they can grow again.

MANPOWER MINISTER LIM SWEE SAY, on the need to be flexible when it comes to new and different employment opportunities.

The new groups get 20 per cent of their wage covered for the first six months and half the funding for the next six.

Since the scheme was introduced last October, around half of the 200 older and long-term unemployed PMETs who participated in it have found new jobs, mostly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Mr Lim said during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Redundancies may go up as the pace of industry transformation picks up and Mr Lim said he was concerned that the longer workers are out of work after being made redundant, the harder it will be for them to get back into jobs.

"Our priority is to help them to get back to work quickly. We are unable to promise no pay cut, or guarantee job offers, but what we do promise is our best efforts to help with a variety of options and a diversity of opportunities," he said. "We need them to do their best to help themselves, be prepared to adapt to different jobs - if necessary, in different sectors and even at different pay, so that they can grow again."

To help workers switch jobs within and across sectors, a career conversion programme will be expanded to sectors like pharmaceuticals, logistics and retail.

Finally, under the P-Max programme, more partnerships with trade associations should also help find work for over 1,000 PMETs in SMEs each year, up from 800 who were placed over the first year.

The programme was started last year to help SMEs improve human resource practices and recruit, manage and retain newly hired PMETs.

Mr Lim also assured rank-and-file workers they will not be neglected.

More sectors will have Place and Train programmes, which provide salary support and course fee subsidies for employers, while their workers pick up new skills. Some 1,200 workers were placed last year. New roles will include guest services officers, and communication and network associates.

The Work-Trial attachment programme will also be enhanced, with higher training allowances for Singaporeans at $7.50 per hour capped at 80 hours, up from $4.50 per hour. The retention bonus for workers who stay beyond three months will be raised from $300 to $500.

As for workers with salary-related claims, all workers should be able to use the Employment Claims Tribunal from early next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'More help for laid-off PMETs to get new jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe