Parliament: New co-funding training scheme for mature workers to gain skills to enter tech sector

Designed to give mid-career professionals the assurance of being employed in a paid job while attending training to hone their skills, the programme will be administered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Citizens aged 40 and above keen to enter the thriving tech sector can look forward to a new training scheme co-funded by the Government and companies that has been launched to plug manpower gaps and to match jobs to these workers.

The TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Mid-Career Advance programme will, for a start, offer participants 500 jobs from 10 companies, including ST Engineering, Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank.

Designed to give mid-career professionals the assurance of being employed in a paid job while attending training to hone their skills, the programme will be administered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

"Under this programme, the Government will support companies to hire and train mid-career professionals for tech-related jobs, regardless if they have an ICT (information and communications technology) background," said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran in Parliament on Tuesday (March 3) during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Mr Iswaran was responding to MPs, including Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) and Mr Ong Teng Koon (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC), who had asked about what the Government is doing to help workers, especially mature ones, develop skills needed for the digital economy.

The latest report from the Ministry of Manpower showed that 71.5 per cent of the 2,430 retrenchments in the third quarter of 2019 involved those aged 40 and above.

The ManpowerGroup's 2018 talent shortage survey also showed that 56 per cent of employers here reported difficulties in recruiting workers for jobs, especially in the engineering and IT sectors, which were two of the top 10 most difficult sectors to fill.

The TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme will help these people be paid a salary while gaining exposure and training. It will also help companies access a bigger pool of local talent while receiving government subsidies to offset training costs, and IMDA's support to develop the training programme, said Mr Iswaran.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that participants of the TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme will go through instructor-led and on-the-job training, mentorship and overseas attachments, where relevant. Over the next two to three years, an additional 2,000 people are expected to benefit from the programme, on top of the 500 jobs available now.

The Government will be providing funds to these companies for things like monthly stipends for the participants, fees for training, cost of living allowances and economy airfare for trainees who go overseas for attachment, added the ministry.

Companies that participate in the programme will have to commit to hire each trainee for a duration of up to 24 months, added MCI.

"IMDA will support companies in the development of the programme through a collaborative effort, introducing third-party training partners where needed, and imparting best practices from more progressive tech hirers," it said.

While participants are not required to have any prior tech experience, they have to be at least 40, should meet the hiring requirements of the companies, should possess a keen interest in a tech career and will need to commit to the full training programme.

Mr Mark Tham, managing director for health and public service at professional services company Accenture, which is participating in the programme, said that experienced workers bring "a wealth of knowledge" that can benefit companies.

"In addition to bridging the talent gap through reskilling, the programme gives mid-career professionals the opportunity to apply their newly acquired skill sets on projects and gain exposure to new roles and industries," said Mr Tham.

The TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme is an enhancement of IMDA's TeSA scheme - a SkillsFuture initiative comprising a host of programmes aimed at equipping workers with emerging digital skills that are in demand by companies.

Mr Iswaran said that TeSA has provided close to 100,000 training places since it was launched in 2016.

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