The logistics sector will be the first to see a new Attach and Train scheme in which workers can join companies for training attachments without the companies having to hire them.
The scheme, which is part of the broader Professional Conversion Programme aimed at helping professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) switch careers, will "convert PMETs ahead of job placement", said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.
Under the scheme, workers are put on attachments in sectors where growth prospects are high but companies are not hiring yet.
During the attachments, the workers will receive monthly training allowances from the Government amounting to between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of the pay relevant to the jobs they are being trained for, capped at $4,000. The employers they are attached to pay another 10 per cent of the salary.
The logistics sector was picked for the pilot run this year because it is growing and there is interest from PMET jobseekers, said Mr Lim.
Four key job schemes
• Employers who offer mid-level jobs to professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who switch careers or jobs will get a 70 per cent salary subsidy capped at $4,000 a month, up from $2,000 a month.
• Those who hire PMETs aged 40 and older, or who have been jobless for at least six months, will get a 90 per cent salary subsidy capped at $6,000 a month, up from $4,000.
ATTACH AND TRAIN
• New scheme in which trainees get a monthly training allowance from the Government at 50 per cent to 70 per cent of the salary relevant to the jobs they are being trained for. Companies training them top up another 10 per cent.
• Pilot run in logistics sector this year.
• Rank-and-file workers will get $7.50 an hour when they try out new jobs, with stints lasting up to three months - a cap of $3,600 for the trial period - up from two weeks and $600.
• After the trial, employers who hire workers who have been out of work for at least 12 months will get a 30 per cent salary subsidy for six months, capped at $600 a month.
• Employers who hire PMETs aged 40 and older who have been unemployed for at least 12 months will get more salary subsidies over a longer period - first six months: 50 per cent subsidy capped at $3,500 a month, up from 40 per cent and $2,800; next six months: 30 per cent subsidy capped at $2,100 a month, up from 20 per cent and $1,400; last six months: 20 per cent subsidy capped at $1,400 a month - a new provision.
• Employers who hire jobless PMETs younger than 40 will get salary subsidies even if they were not laid off. Those who hire jobless PMETs in the 40- 49 age group will get the same subsidies as those who hire PMETs aged 50 and older.
When the Supply Chain and Logistics Academy (Scala) launched its career conversion programme last year, there were 250 applicants vying for 80 places, but there were only 43 jobs provided by firms.
"As a result, 37 of the (training) places were wasted," Mr Lim said.
Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC), chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, was worried that these trainees would be exploited.
He said: "I am concerned that they are not treated fairly and are being used as cheap labour."
Responding, Mr Lim said that the Manpower Ministry will monitor the scheme closely to ensure that employers do not abuse it. He also made it plain that the industry has to help the ministry select the candidates and find responsible companies to train the workers. "We are putting the obligation to hire (the workers after their training) on the industry partner," he said.
Logistics firm Yang Kee Logistics is open to tapping the scheme.
Said its chief executive, Mr Jos Raaymakers: "At the PMET level, the hiring will very much be dependent on winning new projects and vertical expansions."
Scala chairman Robert Yap said the scheme will allow firms to seize opportunities in the sector "without compromising their cash flow".
Mr Stanley Lim, chairman of the Singapore Logistics Association, said that the scheme can help companies ride out the slowdown.
"Due to business uncertainty and the economic slowdown, companies are more cautious in hiring," he said, adding that the scheme will allow companies to ensure that there are trained staff in the pipeline "at the right time as part of its forward planning for manpower".
Other industries being considered for the Attach and Train programme include the infocomm, healthcare and biologics sectors, which are projected to see growth in the future.
• Additional reporting by Joanna Seow