Wage support for jobless S'porean PMEs

The Career Support Programme will subsidise wages of older Singaporean PMEs who have been unemployed for at least six months.
The Career Support Programme will subsidise wages of older Singaporean PMEs who have been unemployed for at least six months.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

It has been more than two years since Ms Mary Koh, 47, started sending out job applications.

The former senior manager in the information technology division of a multinational company lost her job in a restructuring exercise.

She has been unable to find a similar position despite sending out an average of five applications a week.

Several companies rejected her after finding out that her last drawn pay was over $10,000 a month.

"Emotionally it's been a very difficult time; it really affects your self-esteem," she said.

Mid-career job seekers like her stand to get better support from a new Career Support Programme (CSP) announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday.

The scheme will subsidise wages of older Singaporean professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) who have been unemployed for at least six months, to encourage companies to take them on.

For the first six months of employment, companies will receive grants of 40 per cent of the gross monthly salary for PMEs aged 50 and above, and 20 per cent for those aged 40 to 49, capped at $2,800 and $1,400 respectively.

They will receive half the level of funding for the next six months.

"After the one year, hopefully most of them will find that the adaptation is an effective one," said Mr Lim in a media interview at the Manpower Ministry headquarters.

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will launch a pilot run of the programme for two years from Oct 1. There is no cap to the number of workers the scheme could support, or an age limit.

The scheme complements the existing Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs), which helps mid-career workers switch to a different industry by giving six months to two years of full-time training.

While PCPs help job seekers to find entry-level jobs, the CSP will help those hoping to continue in their industry or switch to a related industry at a mid-level job paying at least $4,000.

To join it, workers will have to register with a WDA career centre or the Employment and Employability Institute. Mr Lim said there are about 1,200 PMEs now registered with career centres, who will be "immediate targets for assistance".

There will also be more job fairs specifically for mid-career PMEs.

A former systems administrator, who gave his name as Mr Y. Toh, said he hopes the new subsidies will help him find an IT-related role in which his existing skills can be useful.

"Maybe an employer will take me in as he does not have to pay the full amount and he can spend the money on training," said the 56-

year-old, who has been job-hunting for nearly a year.

Ms Koh, too, hopes to find a job in an industry which is linked to her corporate experience. "At my age, I feel that I still have more to contribute in my field," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Wage support for jobless S'porean PMEs'. Print Edition | Subscribe