Coronavirus: Financial institutions to get help from MAS in worker training, employment

A training allowance and a digital solutions grant are among the new measures rolled out. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - Banks will receive $2,000 every month for each fresh Singaporean graduate or cross-sector convertee they hire as part of a Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) talent development initiative, up from $1,000.

They will also get more subsidies when they send workers for relevant courses accredited by the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF).

These are among the measures in a $125 million support package rolled out by the MAS on Wednesday (April 8) aimed at preparing companies for the economic bounceback when the coronavirus threat recedes.

A training allowance, a digital solutions grant and free access to an online marketplace and sandbox are also among the measures. The money comes from a fund set up in 1999 to develop the financial sector.

The package comes on top of aid that MAS announced on March 31 that allows firms to defer principal payments on their secured term loans and individuals to put off paying back on their housing loans, among other measures.

The new training allowance grant will supplement the Jobs Support Scheme announced during the Budget this year, the MAS said in a statement on Wednesday (April 8).

It will disburse $10 per training hour to individuals who are paying for the course themselves and $15 per training hour for employees sponsored by financial institutions and fintech firms.

Subsidies for relevant courses accredited by the IBF will also be increased to 90 per cent, up from 50 to 70 per cent as long as the attendees are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

The MAS said: "The subsidies will be disbursed in advance to help alleviate any cash flow challenges that firms and individuals may face."

About 400 IBF-accredited courses are available on e-learning channels, the MAS said, adding that more will be offered in time "to meet training needs under the current climate of safe distancing".

The regulator is doubling salary support for financial institutions to hire fresh graduates who are Singaporeans or Singaporean workers from other sectors and place them in talent development programmes under the Finance Associate Management Scheme.

Financial institutions will receive $2,000 every month for each eligible Singaporean they hired as part of the scheme, up from $1,000.

It will apply only to applications submitted on Wednesday onwards, and for hires this year and next year.

A grant that helps financial institutions and fintech firms with no more than 200 employees implement digital solutions to minimise disruption during emergencies such as the Covid-19 outbreak has also been set up. They can go to the MAS website to apply.

The grant will offset up to 80 per cent of qualifying expenses - up to a cap of $100,000 or $120,000.
Supported solutions include cloud services, office productivity tools and security solutions.

"MAS will provide all Singapore-based fintech firms six months' free access to API Exchange, an online global marketplace and sandbox for collaboration and sales," the regulator said.

About half of the 67 respondents in a Singapore FinTech Association survey complained about a significant hit to their business due to the fallout from Covid-19.

The survey also found that companies want advice on available government grants, help with fund raising and generating business leads.

The industry body said on Wednesday that it will be working with the National Trades Union Congress and the Employment and Employability Institute to come up with targeted schemes to help companies better manage manpower.

They will also help fintech firms expand their capabilities through job redesign and upskilling of workers.

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