New grant to help PMETs get back into workforce

People crossing the road near Lau Pa Sat at Shenton Way.
People crossing the road near Lau Pa Sat at Shenton Way.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who have been out of the workforce for at least two years will get a boost, as employers who train them can now tap a new grant.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) U Family unit launched a work trial scheme yesterday, which will start accepting applications from Sept 1.

Under the scheme, job seekers - whom NTUC calls "returners" - can try working at a company for up to six months. During this trial period, the employer must train the worker and pay them a monthly training allowance of at least $2,500.

Statutory board Workforce Singapore will give employers a grant of $1,500 a month to subsidise this amount.

If the trial works out well, employers are encouraged to place the new staff in a permanent position or contract position of at least 12 months.

Employers who retain staff under the programme for at least three consecutive months after the work trial will receive a one-off retention bonus of $3,000 from the Government. The bonus will be given to the employer nine months after the start of the work trial.

Labour MP Desmond Choo, who is NTUC's spokesman for women and family issues, said such schemes are important as PMETs now make up the majority of the workforce and bear the brunt of retrenchments.

He told reporters at a career fair where the scheme was announced that NTUC will pick employers carefully, and favour those in growth industries. Employers must have a track record of good human resource practices, and provide a structured programme to help new workers pick up skills, he added.

This will ensure that the worker can pad up his resume even if he parts ways with the employer after the trial, Mr Choo said.

There were no figures available on the number of PMETs out of work for at least two years.

Singaporeans who are aged 30 and above and have at least a diploma qualification, or were previously in a PMET role, can apply for the work trial scheme from Sept 1 by contacting the NTUC U Family unit at returners@ntuc.org.sg

There are 22 employers from industries like IT and hospitality on board so far offering 80 positions.

IT services company Xcellink is offering seven positions, including business development account director and recruitment consultant.

Mr Mohamad Azhar Ramalan, Xcellink's executive director for business operations, said that while someone who stopped work for a long period may not have up-to- date knowledge, training can help to address that.

"The trial period can also help them gauge whether they are ready to come back and juggle family life with corporate life," he said.

Madam Ang Seoh Choon, 46, left her sales job in an IT multinational 17 years ago to start a family.

She continued to pick up new skills like traditional Chinese medicine, but could not land a job when she tried to restart her career last year despite applying to several different industries.

"I am trying to get myself out in the job market again, if not it might be harder in the future," she said. "I hope that through the work trial, I can show employers that I can still learn a new skill."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'New grant to help PMETs get back into workforce'. Print Edition | Subscribe