MAS rolls out measures to boost job prospects of Singaporeans in the financial sector

The Monetary Authority of Singapore will roll out a new Work-Study Support Programme to develop job-ready graduates and build a Singaporean talent pipeline for the sector. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced more measures on Thursday (Nov 26) to help develop and retain a core Singaporean workforce for the financial services sector.

The measures were announced at a webinar organised jointly by MAS and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF), dubbed "Growing Timber".

Mr Ravi Menon, MAS managing director of MAS and IBF chairman, said the financial sector is planning to offer 1,800 newly created jobs and 2,000 traineeships in the 12 months to June 2021, according to the central bank's pilot employment outlook survey.

While the jobs are spread over different functions, the largest hiring demand is in technology, with 880 jobs, said Mr Menon, speaking at the event.

MAS will roll out a new Work-Study Support Programme (WSSP) that will fund 80 per cent of the internship stipend, capped at $1,000 per month, for Singaporean undergraduates who serve their internships at financial institutions.

This is to develop job-ready graduates and build a Singaporean talent pipeline for the sector.

The new scheme is part of the SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programme (WSDeg), which enables students to gain meaningful work experience and acquire work-relevant skills.

The financial services sector has been a major participant of the WSDeg programme since its introduction in 2017, and the WSSP will help scale the programme in strategic growth areas, said MAS.

MAS will also extend the Training Allowance Grant for company-sponsored trainees by six months from Dec 31 to June 30 next year. IBF will also extend its 5 per cent additional course fee credit to cover the period. The scheme aims at boosting job retention through upskilling workers amid changing tasks and roles.

The Training Allowance Grant will keep up the training momentum of in-demand skills, such as technology, and in new growth areas, such as green finance, said MAS.

Since the Training Allowance Grant and related measures were introduced on April 8 this year to help financial institutions and fintech firms retain staff and build longer term capabilities, there has been a 65 per cent year-on-year increase in training participation, it added.

MAS urged employers to continue to tap on the enhanced training support measures to equip locals with skills to enhance their employability in the sector.

Mr Menon said creating jobs has become the central economic challenge amid the coronavirus pandemic, and jobs have also moved to the front and centre of MAS' financial development agenda.

In Singapore, the Government has always been conscious that creating good jobs is of paramount importance. That is why in every downturn the focus of government support has been on sustaining jobs, keeping Singaporeans employed, he said.

Singapore's financial sector - which accounted for 13.3 per cent of the Republic's gross domestic product in 2019 - employed more than 170,000 workers last year. The sector created 22,000 net jobs between 2015 and 2019. About 70 per cent of those jobs went to Singapore citizens.

In the first half of 2020 - amidst the pandemic - the financial sector managed to create 1,900 net jobs, all of which went to locals.

Mr Menon said that the MAS survey showed that for over 60 per cent of the 1,800 jobs, financial institutions are looking for experienced hires or specialists.

He said a concerted effort is needed to give mid-career jobseekers the opportunity to be trained into these new job roles.

"Employers must be willing to take a calculated chance to hire and train mid-career jobseekers who have good experience but may not have all the requisite skills, but can be trained," he said.

"Likewise, jobseekers must be willing to step out of their comfort zone, and take a stab at trying new roles and picking up new skills," he added.

Regarding the new Work-Study Support Programme, Mr Menon said MAS has been working with the private banking industry for an indicative commitment of about 200 trainees over the next three years, and plan to expand its efforts to other growth areas such as asset management.

He urged more financial institutions to come onboard these internship programmes to help build a strong Singaporean talent pipeline for the financial sector.

The Growing Timber webinar is the first in a planned series of such events to provide a forum for the sector's key manpower issues, said MAS.

Mr Menon said the series is part of MAS' attempt to broaden and deepen its partnership with the financial industry and its professionals so as to strengthen the Singaporean core in financial services.

"Together, we can transform the Singaporean workforce into the best globally," he said.

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